From the Rav’s Desk: Does one fulfill his obligation if he lights the menorah on the floor?

  1. Question: [Sunday, 1st Teves, 5782]

I and a number of my roommates lit the menorah on the floor in order so we can sit around it and have a Kumzitz around the lights. Someone then said to us that it must be lit three handbreadths above on the ground, otherwise we don’t fulfill our obligation. Is this true and what do we do now?


While initially one is required to light the menorah 24 cm above the ground, Bedieved, if one did not do so and let it directly on the ground, he nevertheless fulfills his obligation.

Explanation: The requirement to light the menorah 3 handbreadths above the ground is first written in the Maharam Merothenberg as a personal stringency, his reasoning being due to that it does not appear like one is lighting it for the mitzvah when he leaves it on the ground, and it likewise does not publicize the miracle as people do not look down to the ground. Now regarding how severe this requirement is and if it can actually invalidate the lighting, the simple implication is that it is only an initial stringency, and so indeed conclude the majority of the Poskim. However, from the wording of the Michaber in his Shulchan Aruch it can be implied that perhaps it is invalid even Bedieved, from the fact that he omits the Beidieved validity in such a case even though he mentions it regarding if was placed above ten handbreadths. Practically, although some Poskim conclude that it is invalid the main ruling is that it is valid

Sources: See Tur and Michaber 671:6; Valid Bedieved: Peri Chadash 671:6; P”M A”A 671:6; Misgeres Hashulchan on Kitzur SHU”A 139:7; Kaf Hachaim 671:50; M”B 671:26; Invalid Bedieved: Kitzur SHU”A 139:13; See Nitei Gavriel 16 footnote 11

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