- Question: [Thursday 21st Kisleiv 5782]
I know that women are accustomed to not do work during the first half-hour the candles are lit. My question is if this applies even against frying Latkes to give out to the family while they sit around the Chanukah candles?
It is best to refrain from doing so, although those who are lenient to do so have upon whom to rely.
Although work is permitted throughout the eight days of Chanukah., nevertheless, it is the custom for women not to do any work while the candles are lit for the first half hour. Two reasons recorded behind this custom, one being in order so woman be reminded not to do work opposite the candles, which is forbidden to be done, and another reason in order so they can probably contemplate a miracle. Now, regarding the type of work that is to be avoided, some write that only work that is forbidden during Yom Tov, or Chol Hamoed, is forbidden while all other work is permitted. However, based on the second reason, all work should be avoided in order so they can probably contemplate the miracle. Accordingly, it is best to avoid doing anything during this time that removes one’s mind from focusing on the miracle, including housework such as cooking. However, one can argue that the cooking of latkes does not remove one’s mind from the miracle and hence may be done. Practically, in my opinion is best to avoid, although those who do so have upon whom to rely.
Sources: See regarding doing work during Chanukah: Michaber 670:1; Taz 670:2; M”A 670:1-2; Machatzis Hashekel; Levush 570:1; M”B 670:4; Kaf Hachaim 570:7; Sefer Haminhagim p. 160 [English edition]; See regarding the type of work to be avoided: Or Letziyon 4:41; Piskeiy Teshuvos 670:2; See Shalmei Moed p. 244 that so was the custom in the home of Rav SZ”A to be lenient to cook Latkes when the candles are lit