Halacha for Monday 25 Kislev 5780 December 23 2019

Chanukah Candles in a High Building

Chanukah candles should preferably be placed in a place where they will be visible to the public in order for the miracle of Chanukah to be publicized through our lighting of the Chanukah candles.

It is for this reason that our Sages enacted that the Chanukah candles be lit next to the entrance to the house on the outside so that passerby can see these candles and the miracle will be thus be publicized. Nevertheless, the prevalent custom today is not to light the Chanukah candles outside; rather, they are lit on the window sill or somewhere else inside the house. However, if one has a private house with an entrance facing the street and there is no concern that anyone will try to vandalize the candles, one may certainly light outside the house next to the entrance (on the side opposite the Mezuzah) and fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner. (There are many details regarding the above law which we cannot delve into at present.)

An Apartment Building
Regarding an apartment building, some wish to light Chanukah candles on the outside of the entrance to their house in the stairwell of the building. Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l (Ner Zion, Chapter 4, Section 10) rules that this should not be done since the stairwell is not considered a courtyard and only serves as a passage way for the neighbors to be able to enter their respective apartments. It is therefore preferable for such people to light on the window sill of a window facing the street.

A Very High Building
The Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles in the window of an apartment that faces the street is only when the window is no higher than twenty Amot (approximately thirty feet) from the street. One who lives above this height will not be fulfilling the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle to the passerby on the street since people do not generally lift their heads up to look so high.

Thus, if one lives on such a high floor, one should light the candles somewhere else in the house and one will still fulfill the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle since the members of the family will see the candles. On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Chanukah, page 36) that if there is another high building across one’s own, one should light in the window since the neighbors in the adjacent building will be able to see the candles.

The Custom of Maran zt”l
When Maran zt”l lived on Jabotinsky Street in the Rachavia section of Jerusalem, he did not have a window facing the street and thus, he would merely light the Chanukah candles on his dining room table. He would therefore fulfill the Mitzvah of publicizing the miracle in front of his family. When he later moved to the Har Nof section of Jerusalem, he lit the Chanukah candles on a window sill facing the street as this is the preferable practice, as we have written.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha


Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

Frying Fish in a Meat Pot, Baking Fish and Meat in the Same Oven, and Maran zt”l’s Custom

There is a well-known prohibition of eating fish and meat together, as discussed by the Gemara and Poskim. Cooking Fish in a Meat Pot Although it is prohibited to cook a dairy dish in a meat pot as we have discussed in a previous Halacha, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha