Question: [Wednesday, 27th Kisleiv, 5782]
We are having a Chanukah party by relatives for which we must leave prior to the candle lighting time. My question is regarding what we should do about lighting and if we should light candles by our host, or should wait to light until we come home, and if so what we should do about eating prior to lighting.
Ideally, one should do everything in his power to light candles on time in his house, and only afterwards go to join a Chanukah party. If for whatever reason one is unable to do so, then he may not light by the host of the Chanukah party and must wait to light until he comes back home, even if it is very late. Now, since it is forbidden for one to eat a meal prior to lighting, therefore, one is to appoint for himself a “Shomer” to remind him to light candles when he comes home. For this purpose, one can set up an alarm on his phone to remind him.
Explanation: One is to do all in his power to light on time being that that is what is initially required according to Halacha, as well as because it is forbidden to eat a meal prior to light. Thus, it is not proper to set up a Chanukah party with guests during times that they need to be lighting in their homes, and the party should be delayed until afterwards with enough time for everyone to light at home and then travel to the party. Nonetheless, if whatever reason this is not doable, such as one is traveling from far and returning home that same night, then he must wait to light until he returns home, as the obligation of lighting Chanukah candles is an obligation upon the homeowner in his home and cannot be fulfilled in the middle of the street or in someone else’s house. [Although there are some opinions who hold that if one’s entire family is with him in another person’s home then he may light in that home, practically this should not be followed and rather one should wait until he gets home to light.] However, in order for him to be able to participate in the meal he must have a Shomer appointed to remind him to light candles when he gets home, and hence we suggested the use of an alarm clock for this purpose.
Sources: See regarding lighting on time: Michaber 672:1; Shabbos 21a; Rama 672:2; Sefer Haminhagim p. 158 [English]; Hayom Yom 25th Kisleiv; Igros Kodesh 14:184; 10:153 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:265] See regarding not eating a meal prior to lighting: M”A 672:5; Rashal 85; Bach 672; Kneses Hagedola 672; Olas Shabbos 672; Peri Chadash 672:1; Elya Raba 672:1; Beir Heiytiv 672:2; Chayeh Adam 154:20; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 7; Mishneh Berurah 672:10; Kaf Hachaim 672:4; See regarding not lighting in someone else’s house and the requirement to return back home in order to light: M”A 677:7; Taz 677:2 “Lighting by the meal would be similar to one who is lighting the candles in middle of the street, which of course has no relevance to the Mitzvah.”; Kneses Hagedola 677; Bach 677; Elya Raba 677:3; Peri Chadash 677; M”B 677:12; Biur Halacha 677:1 “Bemikom Sheochel”; Kaf Hachaim 677:17 and 21; Minchas Yitzchak 7:48; Kinyan Torah 5:72; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677:4 footnote 25 and 29-30; Az Nidbaru 7:69; See regarding appointing a Shomer to allow one to eat a meal: Admur 275:4 regarding reading near a candle on Shabbos; 431:11 regarding Bedikas Chametz [permits learning]; 489:17 regarding Sefiras Haomer; Rama 232:2 regarding Shema; Taz 275:3; Tzemach Tzedek 47; Birkeiy Yosef 275:3; M”B 275:6; Nitei Gavriel 4:4; See regarding using an alarm clock as a shomer: Yeshuos Chochmah 70:2; Halichos Shlomo 2:12; Piskeiy Teshuvos 235:8