Where should the Menorah be lit-Inside or outside the home? By the window or door?

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Where in the home/property should the Menorah be lit?

A. Inside the house versus outside the house-The letter of the law:[1]

The candles are to be lit outside the front door of one’s house, which opens towards the public.[2] [This only applies if there is no courtyard in the front of one’s house, and the front door hence faces the public.]

Courtyard:[3] If one has a courtyard in front of his house, [and the courtyard is open to the public[4]] then it is to be lit by the entrance to the courtyard.

Building:[5] If one lives on an upper floor [or in an apartment building] and does not have a door that opens to the public, then he is to light by a window which is opened to the public [rather than light by the buildings front entrance].[6] [The same applies if one lives on the ground floor, but the public is unable to see the candles if one lights at the entrance of his house.[7] See Halacha C for the full details of where to light the Menorah in the event that one is lighting inside the house, and whether one is to light by the window, as stated here, or by the doorpost of an inner room.]

Time of danger:[8] In times of danger due to religious persecution, it suffices to simply light the Menorah on one’s table.

 

B. Inside the house versus outside the house-The custom:[9]

[The previous law, mentioned in A, was the custom at the times of the Mishneh and Gemara, however, eventually, this custom changed as result of the exile, and the danger involved in lighting outside. Thus,] The custom today of all people is to always light the Menorah inside the house, even though this is not visible to the public at all. [This was the widespread Ashkenazi custom of previous times, and is followed even today amongst majority of Ashkenazim, Sephardim , and Chassidim, and so is the Chabad custom to light inside the home.[10] However, some are accustomed today to light outside their homes, as explained in the Q&A.]

 

Summary of A-B:

The Mitzvah in the times of the Mishneh and Gemara was for the candles is to be lit outside the front door of one’s house, which opens towards the public. However, today in the times of exile, the widespread custom of all Jewry is to light the candles inside the house, and so is the Chabad custom.

 

Q&A

In today’s times when there is no danger to light outside, should one preferably light the candles outside as was done originally?

Some Poskim[11] rule that in today’s times when danger is no longer an issue, the candles are to be lit outside, as was the original institution of the Sages. Other Poskim[12] rule that at the very least the candles should be lit by a window, facing the public. However, in truth, the Rishonim[13] and Poskim[14] testify that the custom is to light inside the house, by the doorpost, even though the reason of danger is no longer relevant.[15] Accordingly, one is to continue to follow the custom to light the Menorah inside the home, by the doorpost, as was done in previous generations, even though no danger is relevant, and so is the Chabad custom, as stated above.[16] Nonetheless, some[17] conclude that those who light inside by the doorpost should preferably choose a doorpost which can be seen by the public.

 

If one is accustomed to light outside, where is he to light the candles in an apartment building?[18]

Some Poskim[19] question that perhaps one is to light the candles by the entrance to the building [or the entrance of his door, which leads to the stairway], and so is the custom of some.[20] Other Poskim[21] however rule he is to light inside his home, by his window, and so is the custom of others.[22] Others[23] are accustomed to light two sets of candles, one inside the home by the window, and a second by the entrance to the building.

 

If one is found in an area without Jews, is he nevertheless to light outside, if that is his custom?

Some Poskim[24] rule he is to light the candles outside as usual, in order to publicize the miracle to the gentiles. Other Poskim[25], however, rule that he may light the candles inside, as there is no Mitzvah to publicize the miracle to the gentiles.

 

C. Lighting by the doorpost [versus a window]:[26]

Within a Tefach:[27] It is a Mitzvah for the candles to be placed within at least one Tefach of the doorway. One is not to light it a further than a Tefach distance from the doorway.[28] [Practically, the Menorah is initially to be placed within the actual doorway, between the doorposts[29], although in a time of need, one may place it within one Tefach of the door.]

Left side:[30] The Menorah is to be placed on the left side of the entrance, which is opposite the Mezuzah.[31] If one is lighting the Menorah within the actual doorpost, then it is to be placed [directly[32]] against the left doorpost.[33] If one lit the Menorah on the right side, near the Mezuzah, instead of the left side, he nevertheless fulfills his obligation.[34] If the door does not have a Mezuzah, one is to place the Menorah on the right side.[35] [It requires further analysis if this applies even if the door is obligated in a Mezuzah but does not have one, or only if the door is exempt from Mezuzah, for whatever reason.[36]]

Where to light inside the house-doorpost versus window:[37] The above positioning of the Menorah [within a Tefach of the doorpost] applies whether one is lighting the candles inside the house or outside the house. Thus, those who light inside the house, are to light the Menorah within one Tefach of the doorpost [of a room in the house, adjacent to the left doorpost opposite the Mezuzah]. One is not to swerve from this custom.[38] [However, some Poskim[39] rule that when lighting inside the house, if there is a window available that is faces the public, the candles should be placed by the window rather than by an inside doorpost.[40] If, however, the window is 20 Amos above ground [from where people walk], then according to all, it is to be lit by the doorpost.[41] The Chabad custom follows the former opinion, to light by the doorpost in all cases, and not to light by the window.[42]]

If many people are lighting where should they light?[43] Each household member that is lighting candles is to beware to place the candles in his own area, as opposed to having everyone light together in the same spot.[44] Thus, although the custom is for every person to light by the doorpost, if there are many people lighting Chanukah candles, it is better for each person to light in a different area [even if it is not by the doorpost] than having everyone light by [the same] doorpost, and leading to confusion as to the amount of candles lit that night.[45] This applies even on the first night.[46]

 

Summary:

The Menorah is initially to be placed within the doorway of a room [or entrance of the house for those who light outside], between the doorposts, although in a time of need, one may place it within one Tefach of the doorpost. It is to be placed on the left side of the entrance, which is opposite the Mezuzah. It is to be placed directly against the left doorpost. Some are accustomed to light the Menorah by the window, and not by the doorway. This is not the Chabad custom. If there are many people lighting Chanukah candles, it is better for each person to light in a different area [even if it is not by the doorpost] than having everyone light by [the same] doorpost, and leading to confusion as to the number of candles lit that night. 

In one sentence: The Menorah is to be lit inside the house within the doorpost of a room, directly against the left doorpost, opposite the Mezuzah.

 

Q&A

Where are children to light their Menorah?

The Rebbe[47] suggested that children should light their Menorah in the entrance to their bedroom, assuming that doing so does not pose a safety hazard. Doing so has a greater effect on the child and his education.

 

Where is the Menorah to be lit by a doorpost that only contains a Mezuzah due to doubt or stringency?[48]

One is to place the Menorah opposite the Mezuzah even in such a case.

 

When lighting by the doorpost within one’s house, by which room should the Menorah be lit?

Some[49] write that one should preferably choose a doorpost which can be seen by the public, from outside. If this is not achievable, then one is to preferably light by the doorway of the kitchen or dining room.[50] However, in all cases, the Menorah should be lit in an area that the family will be able to gather there, and will spend time there, and this aspect overrides the previous mentioned aspects [of the kitchen, or doorway visible to the public].[51]

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[1] Michaber 671:5; Shabbos 21b

[2] The reason: This is done in order to publicize the miracle. [Rashi Shabbos ibid; M”B 671:21]

[3] Michaber ibid; Tosafus Shabbos ibid; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:4 in name of Brisker Rav that this applies even today

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is to light the candles by the door which opens to the courtyard. [Rashi Shabbos ibid; Ran and Or Zarua, brought in Biur Halacha 671:5 “Pesach”; Kaf Hachaim 671:38] Other Poskim rule that even according to the opinion of the Michaber and Tosafus, it only applied in previous times when courtyards served as part of the home, however, today that it is only used as an entryway, one is to light by the door leading to the courtyard. Alternatively, one is to light in by the window which faces the public, or by a balcony which faces the public. [Az Nidbaru 5:39 in name of Chazon Ish; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:4]

[4] M”B 671:22

[5] Michaber ibid; Shabbos ibid

[6] The reason: He is not to light by the door downstairs, in the entrance of the building, as it is not recognizable that he lit these candles. [Beis Yosef brought in Kaf Hachaim 671:39]

[7] Az Nidbaru 5:39 in name of Chazon Ish; Chovos Hadar Chanukah 1 footnote 14; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:4

[8] Michaber ibid; Shabbos ibid

[9] Rama 671:7; Tosafus Shabbos 21b; Kol Bo Chanukah p. 4; Ittur Hilchos Chanukah 10 Dibros; Or Zarua Chanukah 323; Ohel Moed Shaar Moed Katan; Birkeiy Yosef 673:2; Aruch Hashulchan 671:24; Michaber 671:5 “In times of danger light inside the house and leave it on the table, and this suffices.”; Likkutei Sichos 5:456; Sefer Haminhagim p. 70; See Shulchan Menachem 3:267-269; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:3; Yalkut Yosef Chanukah 671:22-23

[10] Likkutei Sichos 5:456; Sefer Haminhagim p. 70; See Shulchan Menachem 3:267-269; Igros Kodesh 11:414

[11] Az Nidbaru 10:26; See Sheilas Yaavetz 1:149 that one should light outside; Poskim in next footnote to question this matter but do not conclude to change the custom

[12] See Igros Moshe 4:125 that the custom is to light by the window, towards the public

[13] Ittur Hilchos Chanukah 10 Dibros “After it became accustomed due to danger, so is the custom”; Or Zarua Chanukah 323 “Today that there is no danger I do not know why we light inside” [proving that even after the danger, the custom was still to light inside]; Ohel Moed Shaar Moed Katan “Today we light inside by the doorpost even though there is no longer any danger”

[14] Aruch Hashulchan 671:24 “Today the custom is to light inside even though there is no danger”; Bnei Yissachar Mamar 4:65 [mentioned in Taamei Haminhagim 850 and Nimukei Orach Chaim ibid]; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 671 [There he delves into this question and concludes that he does not understand why today we do not light outside even though no danger is involved, but so is the custom. He brings that his grandfather the Baal Bnei Yisaschar did not light outside despite having had a glass casing to protect the Menorah from the outside wind. He only planned to use this glass casing for the outside when Moshiach would come.]; Mishmeres Shalom 48:1; Likkutei Maharich p. 106; Mikraeiy Kodesh 16; Minchas Yitzchak 6:66; Shevet Halevi 7:84; Divrei Yehoshua 1:40; Yaskil Avdi 7:46; Moadim Uzmanim 2:140; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:3

[15] The reason why today even not in times of danger we light inside: As we are afraid the wind will extinguish the candles, and the Sages did not obligate one to place the candles in a glass casing. [Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Minchas Yitzchak ibid; See Ritva Shabbos 21b] Alternatively, it is due to worry of the Menorah getting stolen. [Darkei Moshe 671:9 in name of Rabbeinu Yerucham; Imrei Noam 2:22] Alternatively, the reason is because today, during Galus, we do not have much ability to affect the outside world, and thus it is enough if we affect the inside, in our own home. [Bnei Yissachar Mamar 2:46 and 3:39 in name of Olellus Efraim, brought in Taamei Haminhagim 850; See also Mamar Osri Lagefen Torah Or p. 92 that during Galus we refine ourselves, and only in Yemos Hamashiach will we begin refining the world; See also Likkutei Sichos 3:67 in explanation of why we rule that if one is unable to afford both candles for Shabbos and Chanukah, then the Shabbos candles take precedence. The Rebbe there explains that this is because if one is unable to invest energy, and influence the spreading of peace into both his own home and also the outside world, then his own home takes precedence.]

[16] Aruch Hashulchan 671:24; Bnei Yissachar Mamar 4:65; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 671; Mishmeres Shalom 48:1; Likkutei Maharich p. 106; Mikraeiy Kodesh 16; Minchas Yitzchak 6:66; Divrei Yehoshua 1:40; Yaskil Avdi 7:46; Moadim Uzmanim 2:140; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:3

[17] Bnei Yissachar Mamar 4:65 in name of Rav Pinchas of Koretz; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:3

[18] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:5

[19] See Chovos Hador 1 footnote 16; Moadim Uzmanim 2:143; 6:67; M”B 671:23 and Beis Yosef 671 that if one who lives upstairs has a door that opens to the courtyard, he is to light by that door; So was the custom of the Brisker Rav and Rav Kahanamen

[20] The reason: As the people in the building will see the candles, and it is hence considered Pirsumei Nissa.

[21] Az Nidbaru 5:39 based on Chazon Ish; Shevet Halevi 7:84; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[22] The reason: As one must publicize the miracle to the outside and not to the joint owners of the building. [ibid] Likewise, it is not recognizable who lit the candles.

[23] Moadim Uzmanim 6:67

[24] Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:153

[25] Noheig Katzon Yosef p. 183; Lehoros Nassan 4:63; Moadim Uzmanim 2:141; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:6

[26] 671:7; Shabbos 22a

[27] Michaber ibid

[28] The reason: As if one distances the Menorah more than one Tefach from the door, it is not apparent that the homeowner lit it. [Rashi Shabbos ibid; Levush; M”B 671:31]

[29] Siddur Admur [Siddur Raskin p. 599]; Mateh Moshe 979 in name of Rashal brought in M”A 671:4; See Shaar Hakolel 46:1

The reason: This is similar to the Mezuzah, which is placed on the actual doorpost. [See M”A ibid]

Custom of Arizal: The Arizal was not careful to place the Menorah by the actual doorway, between the doorposts. [Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Chanukah 4]

[30] Michaber ibid; Shabbos ibid

[31] The reason: This is done in order to have the Mezuzah on the right side and the Chanukah candles on the left side [Michaber ibid] in order so one be surrounded by Mitzvos. [Levush; M”B 671:33; Kaf Hachaim 671:58]

Heker Tzir: Those doors which have a Mezuzah placed in accordance to Heker Tzir [which is the Chabad custom for the doors of all the inner rooms of the house] the candles are to be placed opposite the Mezuzah, and this is considered the left side.

[32] Taz 671:6; Elya Raba 671:14; M”B 671:36; Kaf Hachaim 671:62; Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 [English]

Other opinions: The Michaber 671:7 writes to place it within more than half way towards the left doorpost. The M”A 671:8 explains this to mean that one is to place it anywhere within the half closest to the left door post [if the door area were to be split in half], and it does not have to be actually by the edge of the left side. However, the Taz ibid holds that it needs to be placed at the actual edge, and so rules the M”B ibid.

[33] Michaber ibid

[34] Peri Chadash; M”B 671:33; Kaf Hachaim 671:57

[35] Michaber ibid; Avi Haezriy in Tur; Sefer Hamamarim 1883 Neir Chanukah; Shaareiy Moadim p. 250

The reason: As by all Mitzvahs one precedes the right side to the left. ]Maharil 40; M”B 671:34; Kaf Hachaim 671:59] Furthermore, placing it on the right side brings greater publication of the miracle, being everyone turns to the right. [Bach; M”B 671:34; Kaf Hachaim 671:59]

[36] Sefer Hamamarim 5643 Neir Chanukah

[37] Rama 671:7; Ohel Moed Shaar Moed Katan; Bnei Yissachar Mamar 4:65; Mishmeres Shalom 48:1; Likkutei Maharich p. 106; Sefer Haminhagim p. 158 [English]; The Rama ibid writes as follows “Today since we all light inside the house and there is no publication of the Mitzvah to the public, it is not of so much importance to light within a Tefach near the doorpost [of an inner room of the house]. Nevertheless, the custom is to light within a Tefach of the doorpost just as was done in previous times [when the Menorah was lit outside the house]. One is not to swerve from this custom.”

[38] Rama ibid

The reason: In order that one enter through a doorway and pass in between two Mitzvos. [Darkei Moshe; M”A 671:8; M”B 671:37; Kaf Hachaim 671:63]

[39] Michaber 671:5 based on Shabbos ibid [He writes that when lighting in an upper story home one is to light by a window. Likewise, he rules that in times of danger one places the Menorah on his table and this suffices. The Michaber does not mention in either occasion that one is to light the Menorah by the doorpost.]; Magen Avraham 671:8; Chayeh Adam 164:16; M”B 671:38; Kaf Hachaim 671:39 and 64; Igros Moshe 4:125 that the custom is to light by the window, towards the public

If the window is above ten Tefach from floor of house: When lighting by a window, it may be placed there even if the window is above 10 Tefach from the floor of the house. [Magen Avraham 671:6] See Halacha 10B! Nevertheless, it is not necessary for the Menorah to be above three Tefach from the window sill. [Aruch Hashulchan 671:22] Although, it is preferably to be higher than three Tefachim from the floor of the home. [M”B 671:27]

If the window is not clear glass: Those accustomed to light by the window, are to do so even if window is closed and is not made of clear glass, as the passersby nevertheless see candles lit, which publicizes the miracle, even though the number of candles are blurred. [Rav Elyashiv, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 671 footnote 14]

[40] The reason: As the Mitzvah of Pirsumei Nissa overrides the advantage of walking in between the two Mitzvos. [Levush; Kaf Hachaim 671:64]

[41] Peri Chadash; Chayeh Adam 154:16; Machatzis Hashekel 671:6; Pischeiy Teshuvah; Shaar Hatziyon 671:42; Kaf Hachaim 671:39; 48; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:8; See Likkutei Sichos 5:456

The reason: As when lighting towards the outside, its purpose is for the public to see the Menorah, and if it is above 20 Amos from the ground, they cannot see the Menorah. [Kaf Hachaim 671:48]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that even in such a case, one is to light by the window, as there is some publication to the public. [P”M 672 M”Z 5]

If there are other buildings of the same height opposite one’s window: If there are other tall building opposite one’s window which is above 20 Amos from the ground, some Poskim rule that one may light by his window, rather than inside, as it is within eyes view of the inhabitants of the other building, and hence performs Pirsumei Nissa. [Shevet Halevi 4:65] Other Poskim, however, rule that this does not suffice, as the publication must be to people walking by, and hence one should light the candles inside the home. [Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:343; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:8 footnote 32 in name of Rav Elyashiv]

[42] Sefer Haminhagim p. 158 [English]; Sefer Hasichos 5706 p. 21; Igros Kodesh [Rayatz] 4:181; Likkutei Sichos 5:456

The reason: The Rebbe argued that lighting the candles by the window is disadvantageous for several reasons: 1) Often the house is 20 Amos above ground level. 2) It prevents the publication of the miracle to the family, as many menorahs are made in a way that the back panel only allows the candles to be seen from one side, and it is better to publicize the miracle to one’s family than to the public. [Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[43] Rama 671:2 and 671:7

[44] The reason: This is done in order for the number of candles corresponding to that night remain recognizable. [Rama ibid] However, when each Menorah is not individually recognizable, people can mistake the number of candles which correspond to that night, do to seeing the candles of two different people joined together.

[45] Rama 671:7

[46] M”A 671:2; P”M 671 A”A 2; Biur Halacha 671:2 “Kdei”

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that on the first night it is not necessary for the household members to light in individual areas. [Elya Raba 671:3, brought in Biur Halacha ibid]

[47] Toras Menachem 5748 2:64[brought in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 2:280; Shulchan Menachem 3:269]

[48] Az Nidbaru 10:25; Kinyan Torah 2:119; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:10

[49] Bnei Yissachar Mamar 4:65 in name of Rav Pinchas of Koretz; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:3

[50] Minchas Yitzchak 7:45, as explained in Halacha 9 that we follow the area of eating; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671 footnote 14

[51] Minchas Yitzchak ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

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