Checklist and Summary of laws of Chanukah

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Chanukah Checklist

  1. Chanukah Customs:
  • Meals: Increase in meals and festivities each day of Chanukah. Sing praise and song during the meals.
  • On Shabbos Chanukah, increase in foods more than a regular Shabbos.
  • On Rosh Chodesh Teves one is to increase in foods more than a regular Rosh Chodesh.
  • Eat cheese on Chanukah.
  • Eat foods that are cooked with oil during Chanukah.
  • Chanukah Gelt: Parents are to give Chanukah Gelt to their children every day of Chanukah, with exception to Shabbos. On the 4th or 5th night they should give a double portion. On Friday or Sunday one is to give a double portion on behalf of Shabbos. One is to give his students Chanukah Gelt. Spouses should ask for Chanukah Gelt from each other.
  • Charity: Increase in giving charity during Chanukah.
  • Dreidel: It is customary to play Dreidel during Chanukah. However, one is certainly to avoid gambling with large sums of money or valuable items.
  • Cards: The Chassidic masters spoke ardently against playing cards, saying that it contains much impurity.
  1. Chanukah prayers:
  • Tachanun is omitted beginning from Mincha of the 24th of Kislev, until the last day of Chanukah.
  • A mourner may lead the services on Chanukah, except for the reading of He is however to say the Kaddish after Hallel.
  • Al Hanissim: We recite Al Hanissim all eight days of Chanukah during Birchas Hamazon, within the Birchas Haaretz, and by Shemoneh Esrei within Birchas Modim.
  • By Maariv and Shacharis, we do not announce Al Hanissim prior to Shemoneh Esrei. Rather, upon the Chazan reaching Yaleh Veyavo he recites those words aloud.
  • Hallel: The complete Hallel is recited each day of Chanukah.
  • After reciting Hallel, half Kaddish is recited. On Rosh Chodesh Teves, the complete Kaddish is followed after Hallel.
  • This is then followed by the Torah reading.
  • Torah reading: On the 1st day, the reading begins from “Beyom Kalos Moshe”. The Kohen reads until Ubiyom Harishon while the Levi and Yisrael read from Ubiyom Harishon.
  • On the second day of Chanukah and onwards, the Kohen and Levi read from the Karban of the current day while the Yisrael reads from the next day’s Karban.
  1. Setting up the Menorah:
  • One is to use olive oil and cotton wicks for the candles.
  • One is to use wax candles for the Shamash.
  • Each candle is to contain enough oil to last at least 30 minutes after nightfall.
  • The candles are set up starting from the far-right end of the Menorah. The Shamash is placed slightly higher than the other candles.
  • The Menorah is set up inside one’s home, by the doorway of a room, adjacent to the doorpost opposite the Mezuzah.
  • The Menorah is to be between three and ten Tefach [24-80 centimeters] from the ground.
  • Each person lighting is preferably to light by a different doorpost. Children are to light by the doorpost of their bedroom.
  1. The lighting:
  • Beginning from sunset, one is not to do Melacha or eat a meal until the candles are lit.
  • After sunset, begin lighting the candles. If this is not possible, the candles may be lit with a blessing until day break, so long as there are people still awake.
  • One wears the regular weekday garb of hat and jacket during the lighting.
  • Married men light wearing a Gartel.
  • Prior to the lighting one recites three blessings on the first night, two blessings on every subsequent night.
  • Only after the blessings have been recited, does one begin lighting the candles.
  • One begins lighting the candle to the far left, and hence lights from left to right.
  • One does not light any candle, including the Shamash, from an already lit Chanukah candle.
  • After all the candles are lit, one sings Haneiros Halalu.
  • One remains near the candles for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Women may not do work during these thirty minutes.
  • The Menorah may not be moved until 30 minutes have passed from after nightfall. One may move the Menorah once this time has passed, prior to extinguishing.
  • The candles may not be extinguished until 30 minutes have passed from after nightfall.
  • One may not benefit from the candlelight’s of the Menorah during these 30 minutes.
  • After the 8th night, all leftover oils and wicks are to be burnt on their own.
  1. The Shul lighting:
  • The Menorah is lit in Shul with all the blessings, just like at home.
  • One does not fulfill his obligation with the Shul’s Menorah lighting, and thus one must relight at home with the blessings. Nevertheless, on the first night, the person who said the blessings is not to repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu unless he is lighting also on behalf of others, such as his wife and daughters.
  • On the first night, a mourner is not to light the candles in Shul.
  • The Menorah is to be placed by the southern wall of the Shul, and is to face from east to west.
  • One is to light the Menorah with his front facing South, and his back facing North.
  • One is to set up the candles starting from the end furthest from the Aron. One then adds one more candle each night to the left of that candle, and begins lighting from the candle on the extreme left and then continues lighting towards the right.
  • On each day of Chanukah, the Shul Menorah is lit with both blessings of “Lehadlik Ner Chanukah” and “Sheasa Nissim Laavoseinu”.
  • On the first night of Chanukah one also recites Shehechiyanu.
  • The prayer of Haneiros Halalu is sung after the lighting in Shul just as it is done at home.
  • The Menorah is lit after Kaddish Tiskabel of Mincha, prior to the prayer of Aleinu.
  • On Motzei Shabbos the Shul Chanukah candles are lit after Maariv [before Aleinu], prior to Havdala.
  • The Chabad custom is to leave the Menorah lit consecutively for 24 hours.]

 

  1. Erev Shabbos Chanukah:
  • The Chanukah candles are lit prior to the Shabbos candles.
  • The earliest time one can begin to light the Chanukah candles is from Plag Hamincha. Plag Hamincha is 1.25 Zmaniyos hours prior to sunset.
  • If possible, Mincha is prayed with a Minyan prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.
  • One is to place enough oil in the candles for them to remain lit for at least 30 minutes after nightfall.
  • If one fears to light the Menorah by the doorway due to children and the like, it is to be lit by the window or table.
  • One is to place a Sefer and the like on the chair or stool that is supporting the Menorah, if one desires to move it on Shabbos.

 

  1. Lighting on Motzei Shabbos:
  • In shul: First Chanukah lighting, then Havdala.

Home:

  • First say Havdala
  • Recite a Bracha Achrona on the wine
  • Light the Chanukah Menorah
  • Say Vayiten Lecha

 

  1. The Rebbe’s Mivtzaim:
  • Place effort to influence that a Menorah is lit in each and every Jewish home.
  • Boys of all ages should light their own menorah.
  • Gather children together and explain to them the miracle of Chanukah.
  • Arrange that each Jewish boy and girl receives Chanukah Gelt (coins), and that they in turn also give to their friends.
  • Increase in ones learning of Torah during the holiday

 

 

Chapter 1: Laws and customs of the Festival

  1. The date:
  • On the twenty fifth of Kislev begins the eight days of Chanukah.
  • What it commemorates: Chanukah commemorates the miracles that occurred during the reign of the Syrian Empire in times of the second Temple. They made decrees against Jews, preventing them from following Torah and Mitzvos. Their money and daughters were used at the Syrian’s discretion. They entered into the Heichal of the Temple and defiled its contents. Hashem then had mercy on His people and saved us from their hands. He gave strength to the small army of the Chashmonaim Kohen family to battle and overcome the great Syrian army. The day of the Syrian army’s final defeat was on the 25th of Kislev. When the Jews entered the Temple they found only one flask of pure oil. This oil was enough to last one day. A miracle occurred, and the oil lasted for eight day which was the amount of time it took them to retrieve more pure oil. For this reason, the Sages in that generation decreed upon the Jews to celebrate eight days of Chanukah beginning from the 25th of Kislev, each year.
  • The meaning behind its name: The name Chanukah is a Hebrew abbreviation for “they rested from their enemies on the 25th of Kislev”. An additional meaning of Chanukah is dedication, implying that at that time the temple and alter were rededicated after their defilement by the Greeks.

 

  1. Tachanun:
  • Beginning from Mincha of the 24th of Kislev, until after the last day of Chanukah, Tachanun is omitted from the prayers.

 

May one visit a cemetery during Chanukah?

One is not to visit a cemetery during Chanukah. This includes even if one desires to visit the grave of a relative at the conclusion of Shiva, Shloshim or even a Yartzite. [However, there are those who are lenient in this matter, and so is the prevalent custom.] One may visit a cemetery on Erev Chanukah. Hence if a Yartzite falls on Chanukah one is to go to the grave on Erev Chanukah. According to all one may visit the graves of Tzaddikim during Chanukah.

 

  1. Festive meals on Chanukah:
  • The custom is to increase in meals and festivities during Chanukah, and to sing praise and song during the meals and in this way the meal is considered a Seudas Mitzvah [according to all opinions]. One who arranges a special meal every day of Chanukah is praised. On Shabbos Chanukah one is to increase in foods more than a regular Shabbos. Likewise, on Rosh Chodesh Teves one is to increase in foods more than a regular Rosh Chodesh.]
  • Every day of Chanukah one is celebrate with a festive meal. One is to increase the quality of festivities each coming, just as one increases in the Chanukah lights.
  • Eating cheese/Milk: One should eat cheese on Chanukah, due to that the miraculous victory was achieved through Yehudis feeding cheese to the general.
  • Eating foods made with oil: It is a Jewish custom [which is Torah] to eat foods that are cooked with oil, during Chanukah.
  • Fasting: According to all opinions it is forbidden to fast on Chanukah, including a groom on the day of his wedding.

 

  1. Candle lighting
  • On each one of the eight nights of Chanukah one lights the Chanukah Menorah. The detailed laws of the Chanukah lighting are elaborated on in chapter 3. See there!

 

  1. Al Hanissim
  • Al Hanissim is recited all eight days of Chanukah. It is recited within Birchas Hamazon during the Birchas Haaretz and within Shemoneh Esrei by Birchas Modim. The detailed laws of Al Hanissim are elaborated on in chapter 3. See there!
  1. Chanukah customs
  • Chanukah Gelt: Parents are to give Chanukah Gelt to their children every day of Chanukah, with exception to Shabbos. On the 4th or 5th night they should give a double portion. On Friday or Sunday one is to give a double portion on behalf of Shabbos. One is to give his students Chanukah Gelt. Spouses should ask for Chanukah Gelt from each other.
  • Charity: One is to increase in giving charity during Chanukah. Giving charity during this time is a Segulah for rectifying different spiritual blemishes.
  • Dreidel: It is customary to play Dreidal during Chanukah. The playing of Dreidal represents the subjugation of the kingdoms of the world to the Jewish nation, in the future time of the redemption.
  • May one play Dreidal for gambling purposes as is the custom in many places? Example: May one play Dreidal for winning money, chocolate coins etc. Some write that it is permitted on Chanukah to play Dreidel for winning purposes as on Chanukah people forgive items to each other just like by family. However one is certainly to avoid playing with large sums of money or valuable items.
  • Cards: The Chassidic masters spoke ardently against playing cards, saying that it contains much impurity.
  • The last day of Chanukah: The eighth day of Chanukah is called Zos Chanukah. On this day shines a great amount of G-dly light which is able to refine the greatest depths of evil. One is to increase in Torah learning on this day. On this day one can complete all matters of Chanukah which were not yet done on the previous days.
  1. The Rebbe’s Mivtzaim:
  • One should make sure that a Menorah is lit in each and every Jewish home.
  • Boys of all ages should light their own menorah.
  • To gather children together and explain to them the miracle of Chanukah.
  • To arrange that each Jewish boy and girl receives Chanukah gelt (coins), and that they in turn also give to their friends.
  • To increase in ones learning of Torah during the holiday

 

  1. Segulos during Chanukah:
  • The days of Chanukah are an auspicious time for women who are barren to have children.
  • At the end of Chanukah, the gates of Teshuvah that were opened in Elul are finally closed. Until the end of Chanukah, there is an extended hand stretched from heaven waiting to accept all those that repent, just like during the ten days of repentance.
  • The start of Chanukah marks the end of the Chasima of Hoshanah Raba. It is by Chanukah that the Divine benevolence decreed on Rosh Hashanah finally begins to shine.

 

 

 

Chapter 2: The Chanukah prayers

  1. Tachanun:
  • Beginning from Mincha of the 24th of Kislev, until after the last day of Chanukah, Tachanun is omitted from the prayers.

 

  1. May a mourner be Chazan?
  • A mourner may lead the services on Chanukah, except for the reading of Hallel. He is however to say the Kaddish after Hallel. On Rosh Chodesh, however, and likewise on any day on which Mussaf is said, he does not lead the services, even at Minchah or Maariv.
  1. Al Hanissim:
  2. When is it recited?
  • Al Hanissim is recited all eight days of Chanukah. It is recited within Birchas Hamazon during the Birchas Haaretz and within Shemoneh Esrei by Birchas Modim. [The custom is to recite Veal Hanissim, with an additional Vav, by both Birchas Hamazon and Shemoneh Esrei.] If one did not recite it, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation and is not required to repeat the prayer.

 

  1. What is one to do if he forgot to recite Al Hanissim in Shemoneh Esrei?
  • If one did not recite Al Hanissim, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. If he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Hatov Shimcha,” then he is to return and recite Al Hannisim. This applies even if he already said Baruch Ata but did not yet say Hashem’s name. If, however, one has already recited Hashem’s name then he may not go back. In such a case, there are opinions who say that if one has not yet concluded his prayer he is to recite Al Hanissim prior to the last Yehyu Leratzon said prior to taking three steps back.
  • Is the Chazan to announce Al Hanissim prior to beginning Shemoneh Esrei? Maariv: Some Poskim rule Al Hanissim may be announced prior to Shemoneh Esrei, after Kaddish. Others rule it may not be announced. Practically the custom is not to announce it, and rather upon the Chazan reaching Yaleh Veyavo he recites those words aloud. Shacharis: Al Hanissim may not be announced prior to Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis. Mincha: There is no prohibition involved in announcing Al Hanissim prior to Mincha.

 

  1. What is one to do if he forgot to recite Al Hanissim in Bentching?
  • If one did not recite Al Hanissim in Birchas Hamazon he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation.
  • Remembered before finishing blessing: If one remembered to recite Al Hanissim prior to reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Al Haaretz Veal Hamazon”, he is to return to recite Al Hannisim.
  • Remembered after the blessing-add in Harachaman: If, however, one has already recited Hashem’s name [he is to continue as usual, however] there are opinions which rule that in such a case, if one has not yet concluded Birchas Hamazon, then he is to recite “Harachaman [Hu] Yaaseh Lanu Nissim [Kemo Sheasa] Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bezman…Bimeiy Matisyahu”, in the orders of Harachman’s which are recited. Practically, one is to follow this opinion. [It is to be recited prior to the Harachaman of “Hu Yizakeinu”.]
  • Is one to say Migdol rather than Magdil in Birchas Hamazon on Chanukah? One is to recite the regular weekday Nusach of Magdil. However there are some that are accustomed to say Migdol, just like on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
  1. Started a meal on Erev Chanukah and is reciting Birchas Hamazon on Chanukah:
  • If one began eating a meal during the day of Erev Chanukah and ended the meal at night, after Chanukah has begun, then if he ate a Kezayis of bread after nightfall he is to recite Al Hanissim in Birchas Hamazon.

 

  1. If one continued his Chanukah meal of the 8th day into Motzei Chanukah, is Al Hanissim recited?
  • If the meal extended into the night, one is to nevertheless recite Al Hanisim in Birchas Hamazon. If one Davened Maariv prior to Birchas Hamazon he may no longer say Al Hanissim in Birchas Hamazon. [Thus, one is to avoid Davening Maariv prior to Bentching in order so he be able to Al Hanissim.]
  1. Hallel:
  • Each day of Chanukah one recites the complete
  • Kaddish after Hallel: After reciting Hallel, half Kaddish is recited. On Rosh Chodesh Teves, the complete Kaddish is followed after Hallel. This is then followed by the Torah reading.

 

  1. The Torah Reading:
  • The first day: One begins reading from “Beyom Kalos Moshe”. The Kohen reads until Ubiyom Harishon while the Levi and Yisrael read from Ubiyom Harishon.
  • The middle days: On the second day of Chanukah and onwards, the Kohen and Levi read from the Karban of the current day while the Yisrael reads from the next day’s Karban.
  • The last day: On the last day of Chanukah the Yisrael reads from the 9th Karban until “Asa Es Hamenorah” in Prashas Behaloscha.
  • Shabbos Chanukah: On Shabbos Chanukah two Sifrei Torah are removed from the ark. The weekly portion is read from the first scroll, while the portion of Chanukah is read as Maftir from the second scroll. The Haftorah of Rini Vesimchi is read. In the event that there are two Shabbos Chanukah’s that year, then on the second Shabbos the Haftorah of “Neirso Shlomo” is read.
  • Shabbos Rosh Chodesh: If Rosh Chodesh Teves falls on Shabbos, then three Sifrei Torah are removed.
  • Rosh Chodesh Chanukah: On Rosh Chodesh Teves two Sifrei Torah are removed from the ark. There are a total of four Aliyos read. The portion of Rosh Chodesh is read from the first Torah scroll and it incorporates three Aliyos. The portion of Chanukah is read from the second Torah scroll as the 4th and last Aliyah. Rosh Chodesh Teves always falls on the 6th day of Chanukah.

 

 

Chapter 3: The laws of Candle lighting

  1. The obligation of lighting the Chanukah candles:
  • The head of each household is obligated to light candles for Chanukah in his home. This law applies both to men and women.
  • A single, divorced or widowed woman is obligated to light Chanukah candles in her home.
  • Other household members: The additional household members who live and are supported by the head of the house, are not obligated to light candles. Furthermore, according to some Poskim, they are specifically not to do so, and so is the Sephardic custom. However other Poskim rule that [although from the letter of the law there is no obligation for other household members to light], nevertheless each and every household member is [obligated] to light individual candles [due to an age honored custom of Mehadrin] and so is the Ashkenazi custom.
  • Wives and daughters: Despite the above Ashkenazi custom for all household members to light, nevertheless, wives and daughters follow the letter of the law and fulfill their obligation through their husband/father, and not to light their own Menorah.
  • What does the wife do if her husband is not in town? If the husband/father is away from home, the wife is obligated to light the Chanukah candles at home with a blessing. Likewise, if the wife is away from home she is to follow the same law as a male married guest as brought in Halacha 4.
  • Children below age of Mitzvos: Male children only begin lighting the Chanukah lights some time before their bar-mitzvah. Nevertheless, in many families even very young children are educated to light on their own.

 Q&A

  • Must household members who are fulfilling the Mitzvah with the father of the house be present at the time of the blessing? It is preferable for all the household members to be present at the time of the lighting and blessings. If a household member was not present, he/she nevertheless fulfills his/her obligation. The person is not to recite Sheasa Nissim upon seeing the Menorah, despite the fact that she was not present when the blessing was recited.

 

  1. The obligation of lighting for a guest and one who is traveling:
  • Relying on one’s family’s lighting: One who is staying as a guest in another person’s home during Chanukah, is not obligated to light candles if his wife [or other family member-see Q&A] is lighting on his behalf at home, and he does not have his own room, or if he is supported by his host for room and board. Nonetheless, the custom is for men to light their own set of candles in all cases and not rely on the lighting of his wife or host. However, in the event that his wife is lighting at home, he is to have in mind not to fulfill his obligation with his wife’s lighting, or he is to light prior to the time that his wife lights. [Likewise, if he is fully supported by his host for room and board, he is to intend not to fulfill his obligation with the lighting of his host.]
  • Hotel: Some Poskim rule that if one is a guest in a hotel, then he must light his own candles even if his wife is lighting for him at home. The same applies if the wife is the guest and her husband is lighting for her at home.
  • Hospital: Some Poskim rule that if one is a patient in a hospital, then he must light his own candles even if his wife is lighting for him at home. The same applies if the wife is the patient, such as women after birth, and her husband is lighting for her at home.
  • Must one who is traveling on an airplane or train/bus light Chanukah Candles? This matter is under dispute. According to the stringent approach, one who will be in transport throughout the night, from before Plag Hamincha until after daybreak, and will hence be unable to light at home, is to light candles at his current location. The candles must be lit in a way that the flame will not go out prior to the required time of 30 minutes. In areas that candle lighting is prohibited, such as a plane, train or bus, and one is unable to make a stop in order to light the candles, then one is to light an electric Menorah, or filament flashlight [not LCD], without a blessing.
  • Relying on the Host’s lighting-A guest who lives alone or a family who traveled together: One who is staying as a guest in another person’s home during Chanukah, and his wife [or other family member] is not lighting on his behalf at home, is obligated to light candles, or contribute a Peruta to the lighting of the host. This applies even if he does not have his own room, and is supported by his host for room and board. However, one who is a [non-paying] boarder, or other form of permanent guest, is not obligated to light his own candles. Nonetheless, the custom is for Ashkenazi male guests not to rely on the lighting of their host, even when one is a long-term resident of that household, and rather they light their own candles with a blessing. In such a case, he is to intend not to fulfill his obligation with the lighting of his host.
  • Bochurim/Bochurot-Yeshiva students, Seminary girls: Bochurim [single Yeshiva students, as well as Bochurot, single girls] who are in Yeshiva [or seminary] do not fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, and are thus required to light candles with a blessing from the letter of the law, and not merely due to the Ashkenazi custom of Mehadrin. [However, some Poskim rule that students of a Yeshiva and seminary do fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, and are thus not obligated to light candles from the letter of the law. Thus, according to this opinion, and according to the ruling of the Sefaradim that only one candle is lit per household, the students are specifically not to light candles, and if they choose to do so, are not to recite a blessing. However, for Ashkenazim, even if we were to accept the notion that they fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, they would still light candles with a blessing [having in mind not to fulfill their obligation with their parents or Rosh Yeshiva’s lighting ] as is their custom of Mehadrin. ]
  • Soldiers in IDF bases: Soldiers in the army follow the same dispute regarding Yeshiva Bochurim, and seminary students, regarding if they fulfill their obligation with their parents. Nonetheless, according to all, the entire soldier population who live on base fulfill their obligation with a single set of candles that are lit [in the dining room] by an army representative on their behalf, and from the letter of the law do not have to light their own candles. However, according to the Ashkenazi custom of Mehadrin, all men light candles even when they are exempt.
  • Joining the head of the household in his lighting: In all cases that a guest is required to light candles, an alternative to the guest lighting his own Menorah is for the guest to give a [a few cents] to the host, to acquire a portion of the oil which the host will use. Some Poskim rule, that in such a case the host must add extra oil in his candle on behalf of his guest. Alternatively, the host may give him part of the oil as a present, through doing a form of acquisition with the guest. Whenever the guest is fulfilling his obligation through acquiring some of the oil of the host, he must be present while the host lights and recites the blessings over the Menorah. In any event, if the guest is obligated to light, it is best for the guest to light himself rather than acquire some of the oil of the host.
  • One who is in an area without Jews: One who is in an area without Jews, is to light the Chanukah candles with a blessing even if he is married and his wife is lighting for him elsewhere. [Nevertheless, in such a case he is to have in mind to not fulfill his obligation with his wife’s lighting.]
  • Summary: A male guest is to light candles on his own and not fulfill their obligation with the head of the household. If the guest is married, he should have in mind not to fulfill his obligation with his wife’s lighting. A female guest is to acquire some of the oil used for the lighting. If, however, she is married or is a long term guest at the home and is also given meals, then she is not required to acquire any of the oil, and rather fulfills her obligation with the lighting of the head of the household.

 

  1. Appointing an emissary to light the candles on one’s behalf:
  • A woman or man may be appointed as an emissary to light the Chanukah candles on one’s behalf, if one is present during the lighting and hears the blessing from the emissary. [If one will not be present during the blessings said by the emissary, then although he has fulfilled the Mitzvah of lighting the candles, some Poskim rule he has not fulfilled the blessing of Sheasa Nissim, and he must thus say that blessing upon seeing candles. Other Poskim however rule he has fulfilled his obligation with the emissary.]
  • Appointing a child as an emissary: Some opinions rule a child that has reached the age of Chinuch can be appointed on behalf of an adult to light the candle for him, if the adult stands by him to hear the blessing. However, other Poskim negate this allowance. Practically, even a child who has reached the age of Chinuch is invalid.
  • May one light the first candle and have another light the rest? [In a time of need] one may have one person recite the blessings and light the first candle and have others light the remaining candles. [However, initially one is to light all the candles himself and not delegate the lighting of other candles to other people.]
  1. How many candles are to be lit?
  • On the first night one lights one candle, and on each subsequent night he is to add another candle until eight candles are lit on the eighth night. In addition to the above candles, one also lights a Shamash which is kept separate from the other lights as will be explained. [The above however is only for Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin, as from the letter of the law if suffices to light one candle every night. Thus, if one is unable to afford more than one candle, he is to light a single candle each night.]
  • What is one to do if he forgot to light the previous night? In the event that one did not light candles on one of the previous nights, he is nevertheless to continue lighting the amount of candles that correspond to that night.
  • The Shamash: It is customary to light an additional candle [called the Shamash] to the set number of candles of that night. This Shamash is the candle used to light the Chanukah candles after the blessings are recited. It is customarily then placed together with the other candles although at a recognizable distance from them. It is to be placed higher than the other Chanukah candles. This can be accomplished either by having a Shamash that is longer than the rest of the candles, or by placing the Shamash on a higher plane than the rest of the candles.
  • May one light the first candle and have another light the rest? See Previous Halacha!

 

 

  1. The materials of the wicks, oil, and Menorah:
  • Which oils may be used? [From the letter of the law] all oils may be used for the candle lighting. This applies even if the flame does not light well on that oil. Nevertheless, it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to use olive oil. If olive oil is not available, one is to use other oils that give a pure and clean flame.
  • Wax candles: One may use bees wax candles for the Menorah, and so is the custom of these provinces. [However, this only applies if oil is not available, as it is better to use oil [even not of olives] than to use a wax candle.]
  • Which wicks may be used? All material wicks may be used for the Chanukah candles. This applies even if the flame does not light well on the wick. [Nevertheless, it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to use wicks made of cotton or flax.]
  • May a torch be used as a candle: A torch is invalid for use for Chanukah candles. [Thus, it is proper not to use very thick wicks. It is forbidden to use two wicks that are braided together.]
  • Two wicks in a bulb: It is invalid to light more than one wick in a single bulb as this is considered like a torch.
  • Should one use new wicks each night? It is permitted to reuse the wicks of the previous night. [Practically, however, there is a difference in custom on whether one should reuse the wicks from the previous nights or place new wicks every night. The custom of the Previous Rebbe was to use the same wicks. Some Poskim write that if one decides to use the old wicks then he should place the old wick of the first candle lit the previous night within the candle which will be lit first tonight. Other Poskim however write that doing so is not necessary and so is the custom, not to be particular in this matter.]
  • What should the Shamash be made of? The Shamash is customarily a bee’s wax candle.
  • What material should a Menorah be built from? Every person is to place effort into having a nice Menorah in accordance to what he can afford. The highest level of beauty is to have a gold Menorah. The second level is silver. One who can afford it is to place effort to have a silver menorah, as it is not so much of an expense. One should avoid using an earthenware Menorah as will be explained next.
  • May one reuse the same candle holder each night: An earthenware lamp which was used to light a single night is considered old [and repulsive], and is thus not to be reused another night [due to it being belittling to the Mitzvah]. Thus, one who is using earthenware cups for the oil is to use new cups every night. If this is not possible then he is to clean it every night. A metal or glass Menorah may be reused every night. An earthenware candle holder that is plated [with led or other metal or glass] may be reused other nights just like metal.
  • What should one do with the leftover oil and wicks after Chanukah? After Chanukah, the leftover oils and wicks which were used to light the Chanukah candles must be burnt. It is forbidden to use them for any other purposes. It is proper to stipulate before Chanukah that the oil which remains after the 30 minutes of lighting is not considered designated for the Mitzvah.
  • May one use olive oil that is not fit for eating? However, there are Poskim who rule that it is best to use oil that is edible as this is the form of oil that was used in the Mikdash, as well as in order to beautify the Mitzvah.
  • May one use electric bulbs for Chanukah candles? However, if nothing else is available one may light it without a blessing.
  • May one use a gas flame for the Chanukah candles, such as a stove top?
  • Must one use a Menorah or can he simply stick candles on a table? One fulfills his obligation even if he did not light the candles on a Menorah, but rather stuck a candle on the table. However, there are some Poskim who rule that a Menorah is needed, and one does not fulfill his obligation without it. Practically, according to all one is initially to light the candles using a Menorah as this is considered to beautify the Mitzvah.

 

  1. How to set up the candles on the Menorah:
  • In a straight line: The candles must be set up in a straight line as opposed to a circle. They should not be set up in a zigzag fashion. There should be some distance between each candle in order so the flames do not appear like a single torch. There should be a minimum distance of an Etzbah [2 centimeters] between each candle.
  • From the right: One positions the candles on the Menorah starting from the right of the Menorah, and each night he subsequently adds a candle from right to left.
  • The Shamash: The Shamash is customarily placed together with the other candles although at a recognizable distance from them. It is to be placed higher than the other Chanukah candles. This can be accomplished either by having a Shamash that is longer than the rest of the candles, or by placing the Shamash on a higher plane than the rest of the candles.
  1. Where should the Menorah be lit?
  2. Inside the house versus outside the house?
  • The menorah is to be lit by the front door of one’s house which opens towards the public, in order to publicize the miracle. This was the custom at the times of the Mishneh and Gemara. However today, in the times of exile, the custom is to light the Menorah inside the house. One who is accustomed to light the Menorah inside the home, as was done in previous generations, is to continue to follow his custom, and so is the Chabad Minhag.
  1. The doorpost:
  • The menorah is placed within at least one Tefach of the left doorpost of the entrance to a room which is opposite the mezuzah. If one is lighting the Menorah within the actual doorpost then it is to be placed [directly] against the left doorpost. One is not to light the Menorah more than a Tefach distance from the door. [Practically, the Menorah is initially to be placed within the actual doorpost, although in a time of need one may place it within one Tefach of the doorpost.] The above position of the Menorah applies whether one is lighting the candles inside or outside the house. [However, some Poskim rule that when lighting inside the house, if there is a window which is open to a public area, the candles should be placed by the window rather than by an inside doorpost. If, however the window is 20 Amos above ground then according to all it is to be lit by the doorpost. The Chabad custom follows the former opinion to light by the doorpost in all cases. Children are to light in the entrance to their own room assuming that doing so does not pose a safety hazard.]
  • If many people are lighting where should they light? If there are many people lighting Chanukah candles it is better for each person to light in a different area than everyone lighting by [the same] doorpost.
  • Area of eating versus area of sleeping? If on a steady basis one eats and sleeps in two different houses, then he is to light in the area in which he eats. If, however one eats on a steady basis in his house and just happens to be eating out on one of the nights of Chanukah, then he must return home to light and cannot light where he is eating.
  • Where are Yeshiva students [and army soldiers] to light the candles? Some Poskim rule that a Yeshiva Bochur should light in the area that he eats [i.e. Dining room]. Other Poskim rule that he should light by his room.
  • If one is traveling and will reach his destination late at night when and where is he to light? Example: A Bochur is returning to Yeshivah from Mivtzaim and will only be arriving after midnight, should he light at the Chabad house prior to leaving? One went to visit family and will only be arriving home very late at night, should he light by the family or when he returns home? One is to delay lighting until he reaches his destination. However, there are Poskim who rule that if one is with his entire family, he may light in his current area and does not have to light later on when the family arrives home.
  • When lighting within one’s house, is it preferable to light in the room in which one eats?

 

  1. What direction should the Menorah face?
  • We do not make a point of placing the Menorah in either a north-south or east-west direction. This is unlike the custom followed in Shul in which the Menorah is placed from east to west, similar to the Menorah in the Beis Mikdash.

 

  1. Height from ground:
  • How high from the ground is the Menorah to be placed? Initially the menorah is to be placed between three to ten Tefachim [24-80cm.] above the ground. If one placed the Menorah below or above this height he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. It is placed on a chair, not necessarily higher than seven Tefachim [seven handbreadths, viz., 56cm.] nor necessarily approximating a height of three Tefachim [viz., 24cm.]. [However, there are those which are particular to do so.] [Some Poskim rule it is not necessary for the body of the Menorah to be above three Tefachim so long as the flames reach above a height of three Tefachim. Nevertheless, other Poskim rule that also the body of the Menorah must reach higher than three Tefachim from the ground. In all cases it is not proper to place the Menorah directly on the floor even if it reaches a height above three Tefachim.]
  • Placing the Menorah 20 Amos from the ground: The Menorah may not be placed higher than twenty Amos from the ground. If it was placed above such a height then one has not fulfilled his obligation. [However, this only applies when lighting towards the outside, for the public to see the Menorah, as in such a case they cannot see the Menorah. If, however one is lighting inside his house, one measures the 20 Amos from the floor of his house and not from the street level. Thus, one who lives in a very tall building may light candles in his upper floor apartment even though it is twenty Amos above street level.]
  1. Moving the Menorah:
  • Not to move the Menorah once it has been lit: Once the Menorah has been lit it may not be moved from inside to outside, or vice versa, until it has remained lit for a half hour [after nightfall]. If one moves the Menorah beforehand he does not fulfill his obligation. [Some are stringent to not move it at all from its place of being lit, even if it will be replaced within the same room or area. Others are lenient to allow moving it to another area within the same room. One should initially be stringent like the former opinion. It is however permitted to move the Menorah a few inches for lighting purpose and then return it to it place.] After the menorah has been alight for the required time, it may be moved even if the lights are still aflame.
  • Lighting the Menorah while being held in ones hand: Based on the above ruling that one may not move the Menorah after it is lit, one is not to light the Menorah while he is holding it in his hand, but rather is to light in its set place. If one lit it in his hand he does not fulfill his obligation. [However, some opinions rule that only if one held the Menorah for 30 minutes does he not fulfill his obligation.]
  • If one is sick or handicapped and cannot get up to light may the Menorah be brought to him and have it replaced to its position after it is lit? This should not be done. Rather another person should light the Menorah on his behalf, such as his wife. If, however the Menorah will only be slightly moved then this may be done.

 

  1. Avoiding placing the Menorah in an area of wind:
  • One is to avoid placing the Menorah in an area of wind that can extinguish the flame.

 

  1. When to light the Menorah:
  • Before or after nightfall? The candles are to be lit at the end of sunset, not earlier or later. This applies even in today’s times where the custom is to light indoors. Some hold this to mean that it should be lit during Bein Hashmashos. Others say it means it should be lit right after nightfall [after Maariv]. Practically those who Daven Maariv by nightfall should follow the first view. Those who light after sunset are to place enough oil to last 30 minutes after nightfall. The Chabad custom is to light after sunset between Mincha and Maariv.
  • Being careful to light at least within half hour after nightfall: If one did not light the candles after sunset or by nightfall, then he is to light the candles within a half hour after nightfall. The candles are to be lit for at least 30 minutes even when lighting after nightfall.
  • When lighting after nightfall should one first Daven Maariv or first light? If one did not light before nightfall he should first Daven Maariv and then light. Those who light after nightfall, and Daven Maariv beforehand, should prepare the candles before Maariv so they can light immediately upon returning from Shul.
  • If it is already a half hour past nightfall: If one did not light within half an hour from nightfall he may nevertheless still light with a blessing until daybreak as long as someone in the household is still awake. If they are asleep, one is to light without a blessing. In such a case, it is best to wake them up in order to be allowed to say the blessing.
  • Lighting before sunset in times of need: If one will be occupied [after sunset and will hence be unable to light the Menorah at that time], there are opinions who rule that one may light the candles [with a blessing] before sunset, starting from Plag Hamincha. [Plag Hamincha is 11/4 Zmaniyos hours prior to sunset.] In such a case, one must place enough oil for the candle to last for a half hour past nightfall. [If one lit the candles prior to Plag Hamincha, he does not fulfill his obligation and is required to extinguish the candles and relight them at the proper time.]

 

  1. Eating and doing Melacha before candle lighting:
  • When the time of lighting Chanukah candles arrives [each in accordance to their custom] it remains forbidden to eat a meal, do work, or even learn Torah, until the candles are lit.
  • If one began eating a meal, or began performing other work, prior to the time of lighting, then he must stop and light the candles when the time arrives.
  • Some say one should begin refraining from work a half hour before the time of candle lighting. Nevertheless, one may learn Torah until the actual time of lighting arrives.

 

  1. How long must the candle remain lit?
  • One is to place enough oil for the candle to remain lit until a half hour after nightfall. [The Chabad custom is to light the candles between Mincha and Maariv and place enough oil for the candles to remain lit for at least fifty minutes. This is done in order so the candles burn for at least a half hour past nightfall.]
  • What should one do if a candle extinguished? If the candles extinguished within the half hour period, then even if it extinguished only minutes after lighting, one is not required to relight it, if enough oil was placed for it to last a half hour, and the candle was not placed in a windy area. Nevertheless, one should always relight candles that extinguished before their time and so is the Chabad custom.
  • On Erev Shabbos: On Erev Shabbos one is to place enough oil in the candles for them to remain lit for at least 30 minutes after nightfall. If the Chanukah candles that were lit Erev Shabbos extinguished before Shabbos had begun, some Poskim rule one is not required to relight the candles. However, other Poskim rule in such a case one must relight the candle without a blessing. Practically, one should always relight candles that extinguished before their time, especially on Erev Shabbos. If one has already accepted Shabbos, then he should ask another person to relight the candles.
  • May one extinguish the flames once they have been lit for a half hour? Once the flames have been lit for their minimum time, which is half an hour past nightfall, they may be extinguished. [However, there are Poskim who rule one should not extinguish the candles until the time people go to sleep and the candles thus no longer serves as a publication.]
  • How long is the Shamash to last for? The Shamash is to last at least 30 minutes after nightfall.

 

  1. How to light:
  • The attire: A married man is to wear a gartel when lighting the Chanukah candles. One wears one’s usual [weekday] hat and clothes and not his Shabbos garb.
  • Recite all blessings: One only begins to light the candles after reciting all the blessings. [This applies to all nights of Chanukah.]
  • Light from left to right: On the first night one kindles the wick at the extreme right. On the second night and onwards one adds an additional candle to the left of the previous candles left, and kindles the candles from left to right.
  • May one light his Shamash or other candle from one of the lit Chanukah candles? The custom is to not light the Shamash or any other candle, including another Chanukah candle, from an already lit Chanukah candle.
  • Remaining close to the candles: One remains close to the burning candles for about half an hour [except for Erev Shabbos]. [It was the custom of the Rebbe Rashab to stay near the candles learning Torah.]

 

  1. The blessings:
  • The Nusach of the blessing: Prior to lighting the candles of each night one recites the blessing of “Lehadlik Neir Chanukah”, and “Sheasa Nissim Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bezman Hazeh”.
  • Shehechiyanu: On the first night of Chanukah one also recites the blessing of Shehechiyanu, for a total of three blessings. If one did not recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu on the first night [and the candles have already extinguished] then he is to recite it [prior to lighting candles] on the second night or [on any other night] when he remembers [upon lighting that night’s candle]. [If he only remembered after lighting the candle then so long as the candles are still lit he may recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu. This applies to all nights of Chanukah, if one has not yet recited Shehechiyanu on a previous night. If, however the candles have already extinguished then he may no longer say the blessing that night.] The blessing of Shehechiyanu is only recited once during Chanukah and is hence not recited on any other night.
  • Recite all blessings: One only begins to light the candles after reciting all the blessings. [This applies to all nights of Chanukah.]
  • Reciting Haneiros Halalu: After lighting, one recites the hymn of Haneiros Halalu Anu Madlikin. [Haneiros Hallalu is recited only after all the lights have been kindled.]
  • If one did not light candles and does not plan to do so: One who did not light Chanukah candles and will not be able to do so that night, and was not Yotzei with the lighting of his wife or household, is to say the blessing of “Sheasah Nissim upon seeing the lit candles of another Jew. On the first night of Chanukah he is to also recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu upon seeing the lit candles of another Jew.
  • Are household members who were not present at the time of the lighting in the home to say the blessing of Sheasa Nissim upon seeing candles? No.
  • What blessing does a convert say? Some Poskim rule a convert is to say the blessing of “Sheasa Nissim Liyisrael”. If, however he said “Laavoseinu”, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. Others however rule that even initially a convert may choose to say the blessing of Sheasa Nissim Laavoseinu.
  • Is one to say Bahein or Bahen by Haneiros Halalu? In the new Siddur of Tehilas Hashem [Kehos Israel], and the new printing of Siddur Im Dach, the Nusach is Bahen with Segal. In however the old editions of Tehilas Hashem and Siddur Im Dach, Rav Raskin’s glosses on the Siddur and Siddur Beis Yaakov, the Nusach is Bahein with Tzeirei.

 

  1. Not to do work on Chanukah while the candles are lit:
  • Women may not perform work within 30 minutes from when the candles are lit. After 30 minutes, work may be done not in the presence of the candles. Although this prohibition does not apply to men, it is the Chabad custom for men to remain near the candles for their first 30 minutes and likewise avoid performance of work.
  • Not to use the light-Contemplating the miracles: Work is avoided while the candles are lit in order to serve as a reminder that it is forbidden to make use of the light. Alternatively, this is done in order to properly contemplate the miracle that occurred.

Q&A

  • Which types of work are refrained from being done in the first half hour of the lighting? Some write that one is not to do any work that is forbidden on Yom Tov. Hence only forms of work permitted on Yom Tov are permitted at this time. Others write that only clothing related work is forbidden, such as laundry and sewing and the like. [Nonetheless it is best to refrain from doing any work in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.]
  • May a woman cook or prepare dinner while the candles are lit? It is best to refrain from doing any work, including cooking and meal preparations for the first half hour in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.
  • A Segula for woman: There is a tradition recorded that women who refrain from working on Chanukah receive healing and Divine assistance. Hence, some women have a tradition that if they ever enter into danger they vow not to do work on one of the days of Chanukah and they are saved.
  1. Making use of the Chanukah candles:
  2. Using the light of the Chanukah candles:
  • It is forbidden to use the light of the Chanukah candles to perform any mundane activity. This applies both to the Shabbos and weekday Chanukah lighting. It is forbidden to even discern coins or count them in face of the light.
  • Holy activity: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to use the candles to perform even Holy work that involves a Mitzvah, such as to use its light to learn Torah. Other Poskim rule it is permitted to use the light of the candles in order to perform holy activities. [Practically one is to be stringent like the former opinion.]
  • May one use the candles once they have been lit for a half hour? The above prohibition applies until the candles have been lit for 30 minutes [after nightfall]. Once the candles have been lit for this amount of time after nightfall, it is permitted to benefit using their light. [However, some Poskim are stringent against using the light of the candles to do work even after 30 minutes have passed, due to Maras Ayin. Practically one is to be stringent in this matter. However, regarding learning Torah near the light, one may be lenient, although it is best to simply extinguish the candle and then relight it.]
  • May one read a book and the like if there is other light on in the room?
  • May one stay in the room if the candles are the only lights on in the room? One may use the lights to see items in the room to prevent him from stumbling. He is not required to close his eyes as only matters defined as “use” were forbidden to be done using the light.
  • May one benefit from the extra candles lit for Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin?
  1. Using the flame of the Chanukah candles to light another candle:
  • It is forbidden to light any mundane candle from an already lit Chanukah candle. This prohibition includes even to light a candle that will be used to light the other Chanukah candles. [Hence one may not light the Shamash from a Chanukah candle.] However, there are Poskim who are lenient regarding this candle if there is no concern that it will extinguish prior to having a chance to light the Chanukah candles. However [from the letter of the law] it is permitted to directly light one Chanukah candle from another Chanukah candle. Nevertheless, the custom is to be stringent regarding Chanukah candles, not to light even other Chanukah candles from an already lit Chanukah candle.
  • Other Mitzvah candles: Some opinions rule that Shabbos candles, Shul candles, and Chanukah candles are all considered candles used for a Mitzvah, and one may hence light them from each other. This also includes the candles lit for learning Torah and candles lit for the sake of an ill person.

 

  1. The Shamash:
  • It is permitted to receive benefit from the Shamash that is positioned near the Chanukah candles. One may light other candles from it and may use its light for benefit. Nevertheless, one is not initially to benefit from the Shamash if it is together with the other candles, and not individually recognizable from them.
  1. May one use the oil that remains after the candles have extinguished?
  • The leftover oil of the 8th day’s Chanukah lighting is to be burnt on its own if it extinguished prior to burning for a half hour. [This same law applies for the leftover oils of any other night, although one may simply reuse this leftover oil for the lighting of the next night. This is with exception to the 8th night in which the leftover oil must be burned on its own due to it being the last night of Chanukah.] If the candle contains more than 30 minutes worth of oil, then the first thirty minutes of oil [lit past nightfall] is considered designated for the Mitzvah, while the oil that remains after these thirty minutes does not contain any Mitzvah status. [However, other opinions rule that all the oil is designated for the Mitzvah and thus may not be used for any other purpose. According to all, if one stipulated on his oil that only the oil which burns for the first half hour is designated for the Mitzvah, then the remaining oil may be used for other matters. Practically, it is best to suspect for the latter opinion and stipulate upon placing in the oil that all oil that remains past a half hour is not sanctified for the Mitzvah.]
  • What should one do with the leftover wicks of the Menorah: The leftover wicks of the Menorah are likewise to be burnt.

 

 

 

  1. Lighting in Shul:
  2. The Mitzvah:
  • One is to light the Menorah in Shul with a blessing in order to publicize the Chanukah miracle.
  • Relighting at home: One does not fulfill his obligation with the Shul’s Menorah lighting. [This applies even to the person who recited the blessings and lit the Shul’s Menorah, and thus he must relight at home with the blessings. Nevertheless, on the first night he is not to repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu unless he is lighting also on behalf of others, such as his wife and daughters.]

 

  1. Position of the Menorah in Shul:
  • The Menorah is to be placed by the southern wall of the Shul, and is to face from east to west. [However, some Poskim rule the Menorah is to face from north to south. Each community is to follow his custom. The Chabad custom is to have the Menorah face from east to west.]
  • Setting up the candles and how to face during lighting: One is to light the Menorah with his front facing north, and his back facing south [i.e. from behind the Menorah, between the Menorah and the wall]. Thus, being that we set the candles starting from one’s right, one is to set up the candles starting from the end closest to the Aron. One then adds one more candle each night to the left of that candle, and begins lighting from the candle on the extreme left and then continues lighting towards the right. [Many however are accustomed to light in front of the Menorah, with one’s front facing South, and his back facing North. Thus, being that we set the candles starting from one’s right, one is to set up the candles starting from the end furthest from the Aron. One then adds one more candle each night to the left of that candle, and begins lighting from the candle on the extreme left and then continues lighting towards the right. Practically the worldly custom, and so is the custom of the Rebbe’s Shul, is to follow this latter opinion.]
  • May the Shul Menorah be higher than ten Tefachim? Yes and so is the custom.

 

  1. Reciting the blessings in Shul:
  • On each day of Chanukah the Shul Menorah is lit with [both] blessings [of “Lehadlik Nei Chanukah” and “Sheasa Nissim Laavoseinu”]. [On the first night of Chanukah one also recites Shehechiyanu. This blessing of Shehechiyanu is not repeated again at home by the person lighting, unless there are other people fulfilling their obligation with his lighting at home. The prayer of Haneiros Halalu is sung after the lighting in Shul just as it is done at home.]
  • May the Menorah be lit in Shul with a blessing if a Minyan is not present? Some Poskim rule a blessing may only be recited over the Shul’s Menorah lighting if there is at least a Minyan present during the lighting. Other Poskim rule it is permitted to light the menorah with a blessing even if a Minyan is not present at that time, if people will come throughout the night and see the Menorah. Practically, it is proper to have a Minyan present upon reciting the blessings.
  • May an Avel light the Shul’s Menorah? However, an Avel is not to light the Menorah on the first night as he may not recite a public blessing of Shehechiyanu.

 

  1. When to light in Shul:
  • Between Mincha and Maariv: It is customary to light the Menorah in Shul between Mincha and Maariv [in the presence of a Minyan]. [The custom in the Rebbe’s Shul is to light the Menorah after Kaddish Tiskabel of Mincha, prior to the prayer of Aleinu.]
  • Erev Shabbos: Some are accustomed on Erev Shabbos to light the Menorah in Shul prior to Mincha [even if a Minyan is not yet present]. [Others are accustomed to light the Menorah between Mincha and Maariv as is usually done during the week. Practically, the Chabad custom is to light the Menorah after Mincha, and then return home and light the Chanukah candles and Shabbos candles. It is customary to Daven an early Mincha on Erev Shabbos for this purpose.]
  • Motzei Shabbos: On Motzei Shabbos the Shul Chanukah candles are lit after Maariv [before Aleinu], prior to Havdala.
  • If a Minyan is Davening an early Mincha may the Menorah be lit with a blessing? The Shul’s Menorah may only be lit with a blessing from after Plag Hamincha. Thus, if there is an early Minyan of Mincha Gedola the candles may not be lit after Mincha until the time of Plag Hamincha arrives.
  1. How long should the Shul’s Menorah remain lit for?
  • The Menorah is to light for at least a half hour after nightfall. [However, it is proper, if doing so does not pose a safety hazard, for the candles to remain lit until the next day’s lighting.]
  • Lighting the Menorah also by day: Some have a custom to light the Shul Menorah likewise by day after Shacharis. [Practically, the Chabad custom is to leave the Menorah lit consecutively for 24 hours.]
  • Lighting a Public Menorah: One of the Rebbe’s directives for Chanukah is that one is to arrange public Menorah lightings in order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah. However, the participants do not fulfill their obligation with such lighting and thus should be informed that they must still return home to light.

Is a blessing recited? Some Poskim rule that a blessing may be recited when lighting a public Menorah, as doing so is similar to lighting a Menorah in Shul. Other Poskim rule that a blessing may not be said. Some rule that a blessing may only be said if a Minyan for Maariv is arranged by the public Menorah lighting.

 

  1. Lighting on Erev Shabbos:
  • When are the Chanukah candles lit? On Erev Shabbos the Chanukah candles are lit prior to the Shabbos candles. The candles are lit with a blessing despite the fact that they are being lit while still day. [The earliest time one can begin to light the Chanukah candles is from Plag Hamincha. Plag Hamincha is 1.25 Zmaniyos hours prior to sunset.]
  • When should Mincha be prayed? Mincha is prayed prior to lighting the Chanukah candles. [In a time of need, however, one may light the candles prior to Mincha. If one is unable to Daven Mincha with a Minyan prior to candle lighting, then it is better to light before Mincha and then Daven Mincha with a Minyan.]
  • How much oil must the candle contain? On Erev Shabbos one is to place enough oil in the candles for them to remain lit for at least 30 minutes after nightfall.
  • Wax candles: One who is using wax candles must verify that the candles are long enough for them to burn until 30 minutes after nightfall. Thus, practically the candles must be long enough to last a minimum of 70 minutes. If one does not have enough long candles available, then it suffices so long as one candle will be long enough to last this amount of time.
  • If the candles extinguished before Shabbos: If the Chanukah candles that were lit Erev Shabbos extinguished before Shabbos had begun, some Poskim rule one is not required to relight the candles. However, other Poskim rule in such a case one must relight the candle without a blessing. Practically, one should always relight candles that extinguished before their time, especially on Erev Shabbos. If one has already accepted Shabbos, then he should ask another person to relight the candles.
  • If one fears to light the Menorah by the doorway due to children and the like, where is he to light it? It is to be lit by the window or table.
  • May one move the Menorah from the doorway on Shabbos? Moving the Menorah itself: It is forbidden to move the actual Menorah even after it has extinguished, due to the Muktzah prohibition. It may be moved with an irregularity, just as is the law regarding all Muktzah. Moving a tray or chair that contains a Menorah: If the tray or chair has become a Basis [see below] then it is Muktzah, and may not be moved unless one uses an irregularity. If the tray or chair is not a Basis, then the tray or chair may be moved together with the Menorah even regularly [without touching the menorah], if one needs the space [as is usually the case when by a doorway].  The tray/chair however may not be moved in a regular fashion simply to prevent the Menorah from getting damaged. Moving the Menorah while still lit:  In the above case [that the tray or chair is not a Basis] one may move the tray or chair gently, even if the Menorah that is on it is still lit, even if it contains oil. However, by an oil candle, this is only allowed if one is able to do so very gently to the point that no oil swerves in the process.
  • How does one effect that the tray/table does not become a Basis? An item which intentionally contains a Muktzah item on top of it, becomes Mukztah over Shabbos just like the item itself. Thus, the chair and tray of the Menorah are Muktzah just as is the law of the Menorah. This status of Muktzah is called a Basis. Nevertheless, there are ways to prevent the chair or tray from becoming a Basis as explained next: A tray or chair does not become a Basis if one places bread [of the Shabbos meal] or another non-Muktzah item [such as a Siddur or Tehillim] of more importance  than the flame resting on the tray/table during the entrance of Shabbos [sunset/ candle lighting] , and the tray was not manufactured specifically for candles. [Some say this means if the candle tray is not specifically manufactured to be used for candles, then it may have bread [of the Shabbos meal] or another permitted item of more value than the Muktzah items, placed on the tray. Others say that even if the tray was not manufactured for this purpose, but was designated to now be used only for this purpose, then it is always a Basis.]
  • What is one to do if the tray has become a Basis? One may only move it with an irregularity [Shinuiy].

 

  1. Lighting on Motzei Shabbos:
  • In Shul, the Chanukah candles are lit prior to Havdala. In one’s home, the Chanukah candles are lit after Havdala.
  • When does one recite Vayiten Lecha, after Havdala or after the Chanukah lighting? The prayer of Vayiten Lecha is recited only after the Chanukah lighting.

 

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