Until what time may one light the Chanukah candles

Until what time may one light the Chanukah candles?

The initial time:[1] The candles are to initially[2] be lit at the end of sunset.[3]  Some Poskim[4] rule this to mean that the candles are to be lit prior to nightfall, at the beginning of Bein Hashmashos, which is right after sunset, and so is the Chabad custom to initially light the Menorah after sunset, prior to nightfall, which is the time between Mincha and Maariv.[5] Other Poskim[6] rule that the end of sunset refers to nightfall/Tzeis Hakochavim and thus the candles should be lit right after nightfall [after Maariv[7]], and so is the custom of many other communities.[8]

Being careful to light at least within a half hour after nightfall:[9] If one forgot or delayed and did not light the candles after sunset [by nightfall], then he is to light the candles within a half hour after nightfall.[10] The candles are to remain lit for at least 30 minutes, even when lighting after nightfall.[11] [Some Poskim[12] rule that in today’s times that people work after nightfall, one who did not light candles by the correct time, may even initially do so until the time that stores close, and is not limited to the first half hour of the night. Other Poskim[13] however, negate this ruling.]

If it is already a half hour past nightfall:[14] If one did not light within half an hour from nightfall, he may still light [with a blessing[15]] throughout the night, [until daybreak[16]].[17] Nevertheless, one may only light with a blessing if ones family is still awake and will be present by the lighting.[18] If they are all sleeping one is to light the candles without a blessing.[19] In such a case, it is best to wake them up in order to be allowed to say the blessing.[20] It suffices to wake up even one family member in order to be able to light the candles with a blessing.[21] [The need for people to still be awake, however, only applies from when people are no longer found outside on the streets. Though, so long as there are still people outside, one may light with a blessing, even if one is alone at home, or everyone is sleeping. Based on this, some[22] write that one may light with a blessing until 9:00 pm, even if no one is present. Others[23] write one may light with a blessing even if no one is present until 12:00 PM.] The candles are to be lit for at least 30 minutes even when lighting very late into the night.[24]

If the morning has arrived:[25] If the entire night passed and one did not yet light candles, the opportunity is lost and he can no longer fulfill the Mitzvah.[26] The night is considered to have ended starting from Alos Hashachar, and thus once Alos arrives, the Mitzvah can no longer be fulfilled.[27] In such a case, one is nevertheless to continue lighting the same amount of candles as everyone else on the next night[28], even though he did not light the night before.[29] [One who missed a night, and is pained that he cannot make it up, can place double the amount of oil corresponding to both nights.[30]]

Summary:

One is to initially light the Menorah after sunset, prior to nightfall, which is the time between Mincha and Maariv. If one did not light at that time he is to light immediately after nightfall. If he did not light at that time, he is to light within half an hour from nightfall. If he did not light within that time he is to light anytime up until daybreak. A blessing may be said so long as there is someone still awake in the home.

Q&A

May a couple light past midnight with a blessing?

Yes. 

May one light with a blessing within 30 minutes before Alos?

Some Poskim[31] rule one may still light with a blessing even within a half hour before Alos [if a household member is awake, as explained above].

 

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[1] 672:1; Shabbos 21a “The Mitzvah is from sunset until..”

[2] So writes Michaber ibid in the continuation of this Halacha, that this time of sunset is only Lechatchila.

[3] The reason: As during this time, those passing by notice the candles. [Levush; M”B 672:1; Kaf Hachaim 672:2] One is not to light prior to sunset being that one does not benefit from the light. [M”A 672:1]

[4] Bahag; Ran; Rashba; Meiri; brought in Gr”a, Peri Chadash 672:1; Custom of Kneses Hagedola on Tur; M”B 672:1; See Biur Halacha 672:1 “Velo Makdimim”; The custom of Jerusalem Jewry [Yishuv Hayashan] based on the Gr”a is to light immediately after sunset

[5] Bein Hashmashos begins immediately after sunset. [In accordance to our ruling to follow the Geonim] However, in the ruling of the Michaber, this Bein Hashmashos refers to the time of Rabbeinu Tam, as the Michaber in his Shulchan Aruch 261:1 rules like Rabbeinu Tam. The Bein Hashmashos of Rabbeinu Tam begins 15 minutes prior to nightfall and his nightfall begins 72 minutes after sunset. [M”B 672:1] Hence, according to this opinion, the candles are to be lit 15 minutes prior to nightfall. The reason this opinion interprets “after sunset” as Bein Hashmashos is because according to Rabbeinu Tam there are two sunsets. Hence, they interpret “the end of sunset” to refer to the end of the first sunset prior to the start of the 2nd sunset, which is approximately 15 minutes prior to nightfall. According to the opinion of the Geonim that Bein Hashmashos begins immediately after sunset, which is the final ruling today, one is to light the Menorah immediately after sunset. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:1; See Az Nidbaru 7:70]

[6] Beis Yosef; Bach; Magen Avraham 672:1; Elya Raba 672:1; Kneses Hagedola 672:1; Mamar Mordechai 672:1; Chayeh Adam 154:18; Derech Hachaim 2; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 7; M”B 672:1; Kitzur SH”A 139:10; Kaf Hachaim 672:2; So is the custom of the Sefaradim; Custom of Chazon Ish is to light by Tzeis Hakochavim of Geonim [Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:234] Custom of Gur [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

The reason: The Beis Yosef explains that the end of sunset means after nightfall and so rules Magen Avraham 672:1. Nightfall here in the Michaber refers to nightfall of Rabbeinu Tam. However, we rule in accordance to the nightfall of the Geonim. See coming footnotes. According to these opinions, one is not to light the candles before nightfall, during Bein Hashmashos, as we do not view this period of time as a questionable Rabbinical time of which we rule leniently. [P”M 672 A”A 1; Kaf Hachaim 672:2]

If one is in doubt if nightfall arrived: If one is in doubt as to whether nightfall has arrived, he is to light the candles, as it is better to light earlier than later. [Chayeh Adam ibid]

[7] See the end of this Halacha for sources; Maariv should be davened either before nightfall, for those accustomed to do so, or right after nightfall before lighting.

[8] P”M 672 A”A 1; Biur Halacha 672 “Lo Meachrim”

[9] Michaber 672:2; Shabbos ibid

[10] Michaber ibid “Until Shetichleh Regel Min Hashuk which is around a half hour”

The reason:  As within a half hour after nightfall people are on the streets and pass by one’s home and hence the miracle becomes publicized. [Michaber ibid]

[11] M”B 671:5 in name of Peri Chadash

Background: From the letter of the law, it must only be lit until a half hour after nightfall, even if the candle itself will not be lit for a half hour, due to it being lit sometime after nightfall. [M”A 672:2-3; M”B 671:5 in name of Peri Chadash] Nevertheless, this only applied in the times of the Gemara. However, today, that we light inside and the publication of the lighting is mainly directed towards one’s family and not towards the public, therefore, the candle is always to remain lit for a half hour, irrelevant of when it was lit. [Peri Chadash; P”M 672 A”A 2; M”B 671:5; Kaf Hachaim 672:15]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that today, when lighting after the proper time, it is not necessary for the candles to last a half hour, or until a half hour passes from nightfall. [Poskim brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[12] Moadim Uzmanim 2:141; 6:86; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:390; Mishneh Halachos 4:79; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:4; See Bnei Yisachar, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 16 for a similar ruling

[13] Or Letziyon 1:45

[14] Michaber 672:2; Tur 672; Ravayah 972; Hagahos Maimanis brought in M”A 672:6

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that once a half hour has passed after nightfall, the Mitzvah can no longer be fulfilled. [Rambam Chanukah 4:5, brought in Tur 672] Others rule it is questionable whether one can still fulfill the Mitzvah. [Tosafus Shabbos 21, Implication of Rosh ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 672, and M”A 672:6] Other Poskim rule that one must light the candles prior to midnight, and hence once midnight has arrived, the Mitzvah can no longer be fulfilled. [Rashal 85 brought in M”A ibid; Taz 672:1] Rav Yaakov Yosef z”l concludes that Safek Brachos Lihakel, and that one may never light candles with a blessing past a half hour after nightfall. Nonetheless, the remainder of the Yosef family [Rav Ovadia Yosef z”l, Rav Yitzchak Yosef shlita, Rav David Yosef shlita, all concur that a blessing may be recited as rules Michaber ibid]

[15] M”A 672:6 that so is implication of Michaber ibid; Peri Chadash 672; Chemed Moshe 672:3; Machazik Bracha 672:2; M”B 672:11

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one must light the candles prior to midnight and hence when lighting after midnight one may not recite a blessing. [Rashal 85 brought in M”A ibid; Taz 672:1] Other Poskim rule one may never light the candles with a blessing, after 30 minutes pass after midnight. [Tosafus Shabbos 21, Implication of Rosh ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 672, and M”A 672:6]

[16] Hagahos Maimanis brought in M”A 672:6; M”B 672:11

May one light with a blessing within 30 minutes before Alos? See Q&A!

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may light the candles even after Alos, so long as it is still dark outside. [Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:119]

[17] Michaber ibid

Is the lighting past nightfall included in the initial Mitzvah, or it is Tashlumin? Some Poskim explain that the initial Mitzvah can only be fulfilled until a half hour past nightfall, and the lighting of later on is merely a status of Tashlumin. [Ravayah 972; Shut Magidos 2:163]

[18] M”A 672:6; Hagahos Maimanis

[19] M”A ibid; Elya Raba 672:3; Chayeh Adam 154:19; Derech Hachiam 2; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 7; Kitzur SHU”A 139:10; M”B 672:11; Kaf Hachaim 672:26

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one may light with a blessing up until Alos Hashachar even if he is alone and all his family members are asleep. [Chemed Moshe 672:3] Some Poskim conclude that one who is lenient like this opinion is not to be protested against. [Shaar Hatziyon 672:17; Igros Moshe 4:105; Mishpat Leyaakov 36; Chazon Ovadia]

[20] Chemed Moshe 672:3; M”B 672:11;

[21] Ben Ish Chaiy ibid that so long as two people are awake, it may be lit with a blessing; Kaf Hachaim ibid; However the Chemed Moshe ibid writes one is to wake up 2-3 family members. In any event, the Chemed Moshe rules one can say a blessing even if no family members are present.

[22] Moadim Uzmanim 2:141; 6:86; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:390; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:4; See Bnei Yisachar, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 16 for a similar ruling

[23] Mishneh Halachos 4:79; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:4

[24] P”M 672 A”A 3; M”B 671:5; Kaf Hachaim 672:15

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that when lighting after the proper time it is not necessary for the candles to last a half hour. [Poskim brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[25] Michaber 672:2

Other opinions: From some Poskim it can be understood that one is able to light Chanukah candles even the next day, with a blessing, as a form of Tashlumin. Vetzaruch Iyun [See Ravayah 972 who compares it to Tashlumin of Tefila; See Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:119 who permits past Alos until light]

[26] Michaber ibid

[27] Hagahos Maimanis brought in M”A 672:6; M”B 672:11

May one light with a blessing within 30 minutes before Alos? See Q&A!

[28] Meaning that if the next night is the 2nd night of Chanukah, then he is to light two candles, and on the third night he is to light three candles. We do not say that for this person the second night is considered the first night. [M”B 672:12; Darkei Moshe]

[29] Rama ibid; Maharil; Aguda

The reason: The Mitzvah of lighting candles each night is not similar to the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer, as there is a separate Mitzvah each night to light candles, unlike Sefiras Haomer which is a Mitzvah that is dependent on the completeness of the count. [Beis Yosef; Levush; Biur Hagr”a; Kaf Hachaim 672:27]

[30] Ruach Chaim brought in Kaf Hachaim 672:29

[31] Shevet Halevi 8:156 based on Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:119; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:5; See Nitei Gavriel 3:19 who writes [on his own basis] that one may only light with a blessing up until a half hour before Alos, as the candle is required to light for a half hour. However, from the Setimas Haposkim ibid it implies that this is not necessary. See Kaf Hachaim 672:15 that not all Poskim agree that the candles must light for a half hour when lit after the time, and perhaps Bedieved, all Poskim agree this is not necessary.

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