Halacha for Sunday 20 Kislev 5781 December 6 2020

Lighting Chanukah Candles With Electric Bulbs

The Poskim in the last few generations have discussed whether or not one may fulfill the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles using electric light bulbs. This question is especially pertinent to those staying at a hotel during Chanukah and are the management does not permitted lighting a fire in one’s hotel room. May one simply fulfill this Mitzvah using a few electric light bulbs?

Let us preface this discussion by quoting the words of the Rashba in his commentary on Masechet Shabbat (21a) where he writes that the reason why it is forbidden to derive benefit from the Chanukah candles (during the first half-hour since it was lit) is because the Chanukah candles commemorate the miracle that occurred with the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash. Just as benefitting from the lights of the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash was forbidden, it is likewise forbidden to benefit from the Chanukah candles.

Based on this, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (Chazon Ovadia- Chanukah, age 93) that it seems that one would not fulfill one’s obligation of this Mitzvah with electric light bulbs since it does not contain oil or a wick and is not reminiscent of the Menorah lighting in the Bet Hamikdash whatsoever. Many other great Acharonim concur. Furthermore, the Rashba’s position is echoed by several Rishonim.

Thus, halachically speaking, although electric light bulbs may be used to fulfill the Mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles, nevertheless, regarding Chanukah candles, one must use candles made out of either oil or wax and a wick.

Thus, Maran zt”l adds that in places such as halls or synagogues where electric Menorahs are lit on Chanukah, no blessing should be recited. Reciting a blessing before turning on these bulbs is a possible blessing in vain. The same applies to the electric Menorahs lit by followers of Chabad on top of cars and in front of synagogues in that although it is a nice way to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, nevertheless, the blessing should not be recited.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Salt on the Table

Question: Is there a halachic necessity to have salt placed on the table before reciting the Hamotzi blessing and is it necessary to observe this custom on weekdays as well? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 40a) states: “Rava bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav Chiya: One may not recite the Hamo......

Read Halacha

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, befo......

Read Halacha

Eating without First Washing One’s Hands

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not be lenient and nullify the edict of washing one’s hands prior to eating bread; even if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and merely holds it with gloves or a napkin, one may still not defy this edict. If one......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal

The Enactment of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal There is a rabbinic enactment to wash one’s hands before sitting down to eat a bread meal. The Mishnah in Masechet Eduyot (Chapter 5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer ben Chanoch was excommunicated for having raised doubts about the necess......

Read Halacha


The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate? Answer: Regarding the aforementioned mat......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha