Halacha for Wednesday 16 Kislev 5781 December 2 2020

Some Laws Regarding Lighting Chanukah Candles

The Proper Time to Light
The proper time to light Chanukah candles is at the “emergence of the stars” which is approximately fifteen minutes after sunset this time of year. Some Ashkenazim light Chanukah candles immediately at sunset. If one has not lit at this time, one should light as soon as possible thereafter. Even if one was very delayed, one may light Chanukah candles with a blessing until dawn.

The Obligation to Light
We have already mentioned that the Sephardic custom is that only the head of the household lights Chanukah candles and the rest of the members of the household fulfill their obligation in this manner. The Ashkenazi custom, on the other hand, is that every member of the household light his own Chanukah candles. We have also mentioned that women are obligated in the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles as well. Thus, a single woman or a woman whose husband is out of town must light Chanukah candles on her own. Similarly, if a man knows that he will arrive home late at night, he may appoint his wife as his agent to light the Chanukah candles on his behalf and she should subsequently light the candles with a blessing and the husband will fulfill his obligation in spite of the fact that he is not home.

A Child Lighting Chanukah Candles
Since the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles applies only to men and women above the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, if a child under this age lights the Chanukah candles, the adult members of the household will not fulfill their obligation through his lighting. One should therefore not allow a child to light the Chanukah candles. Rather, the head of the household should light the first candle and if he wishes, he may allow a child to light the rest of the candles according to the letter of the law (although it is preferable for the father and son to light these candles together). The extra “Shammash” candle may be lit by anyone.

Regarding the law that a child may not light Chanukah candles, some say that a child of twelve years of age may light Chanukah candles (see Zivchei Tzedek, Volume 3, Chapter 41). This law is nevertheless doubtful. Nonetheless, if it happened that a child recited the blessings and lit Chanukah candles, there is no need to extinguish them and light other ones (see Chazon Ovadia-Chanukah, page 49).

Stipulation Regarding the Chanukah Candles
The sanctity of the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles rests on the remaining oil and wicks of the Chanukah candles. One must therefore burn them after Chanukah. In order to avoid such a situation, it is appropriate that one stipulate before Chanukah that one does not intend to designate the oil and wicks for the sake of the Mitzvah. In this way, no sanctity will rest on the remaining oil and wicks and one will be free to use it as one wishes.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha


The Privilege to Donate Tzedakah

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed how the prophet Yirmeya requested from Hashem that when the wicked wish to donate Tzedakah, he should present them with unworthy people. This means that the Tzedakah funds should go to unworthy causes, such as cheaters and con-artists. As such, the wicked w......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Unworthy Individuals

In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary aspects of the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. If one transgresses any prohibition in the Torah and does not repent, for instance, if one is aware of the prohibition of shaving one’s beard with a razor and he nevertheless does so or one who dese......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha