Women lighting Chanulah candles and must they be present for the lighting

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Women:[1]

Women [who are the heads of their household] are obligated to light Chanukah candles just like men.[2] Thus, a single, divorced or widowed woman, is obligated to light Chanukah candles in her home. Likewise, a woman whose husband is away from home is obligated to light Chanukah candles in her home, and cannot delegate this duty to a male child below Bar Mitzvah.[3] A woman may even be appointed by a man as his Shliach to light the Chanukah candles on his behalf, as explained in Halacha 4 [and brought next]. 

Wives: From the letter of the law, a woman can light candles in place of her husband, even when he is present in the house, and have the household fulfill their obligation through her.[4] Nevertheless, it is not proper for a wife to light on behalf of her husband, when her husband is able to light.[5] From the letter of the law, according to the Ashkenazi custom explained in C, a wife is allowed to light candles with a blessing in addition to her husband, just as is done by the other household members.[6] Nevertheless, practically, wives do not light Chanukah candles in addition to her husband [that is home], and she rather fulfills her obligation with her husband’s lighting.[7]

Daughters living at home:[8] Daughters who live in the household in which their father is lighting candles, according to the Ashkenazi custom explained in C, are allowed to light candles with a blessing, in addition to the father of the home.[9] Practically, however, the daughters are not to light Chanukah candles in addition to their father, and are rather to fulfill their obligation with their fathers lighting.[10]

 

Summary:

Single woman who are the head of their household, are obligated to light candles just like men. Likewise, a woman whose husband is away from home is obligated to light Chanukah candles in her home. Women who are part of a household, are to have the father of the house light the candles, and be Yotzei with him. There is no difference between Ashkenazi and Sefaradi custom, in this regard.

 

Q&A

May a wife light candles with a blessing even if her husband is lighting?[11]

If a wife chooses to light candles, she may do so with a blessing, even if her husband is also lighting candles.[12] [However, she must have in mind to not be Yotzei with her husband’s lighting in order to be allowed to light her own candles with a blessing.[13]]

 

If one came home and unexpectedly found that his wife lit the Chanukah candles, is he to light candles with a blessing?

See Halacha 3A in Q&A!

 

What does a wife do if she is not with her husband during a night of Chanukah?

If the husband is away from home, the wife is obligated to light the Chanukah candles at home with a blessing. If the wife is away from home, she is to follow the same law as a male married guest, which is brought in Halacha 4A, and either join in the lighting of her host, or light her own candles.

Children are lighting:[14] If there are sons who are lighting at home, then if they are not yet Bar Mitzvah, she does not fulfill her obligation with their lighting, and is thus to light the candles in addition to them.

 

 

 

 

Are daughters to light Chanukah candles if the father is not home and the mother is lighting in his stead?

Some Poskim[15] rule that in such a case, the daughters should also light candles, although the custom is not to do so.

 

 

Must household members [daughter; wife; Sefaradi boys] 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.[16] 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 he/she was not present when the blessing was recited.[17]

 

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[1] Michaber 675:3; Shabbos 23a

Having a man be Motzi the woman:

[2] The reason: The reason women are obligated in this Mitzvah, despite the fact that this is a Mitzvah “Shehazman Grama”, is because women were actively part of the Chanukah miracle, as the Greeks decreed that every bride must first sleep with the general, and it was through a woman that the Chanukah miracle took place. [Shabbos 23a; Taz 675:4; Beir Hagoleh 675:2; Kol Bo]

[3] M”B 675:9

Custom of wife of Rebbe Rashab: When the Rebbe Rashab was away from home for Chanukah, he would instruct his wife Shterna Sara, to light the candles, but to hear the blessing from one of the men [who were lighting]. [Sefer Hasichos 5706 p. 21; Likkutei Sichos 30 p. 312; Toras Menachem 4:233] The Rebbe, however, points out that the widespread custom is for the woman to be Yotzei with the men and not light on their own. [Toras Menachem ibid footnote 11]

[4] Michaber 675:3 “A woman may light Ner Chanukah”; M”A 675:4 “For the sake of her household”; Taz 675:4 “She can even light on behalf of a man”; M”B 675:9 and Biur Halacha 675:2 “Isha”

[5] Biur Halacha 675:2 “Isha”

[6] Olas Shmuel 105; Pischeiy Teshuvah; M”B 675:9; Kaf Hachaim 675:21; Machatzis Hashekel 677:8 in name of Shiltei Giborim [brought in Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 footnote 623] “The Mehadrin have every family member light candles, whether men or women”; Rambam Chanukah 4 “Whether for men or for women”; Kaf Hachaim 671:16

[7] Rashal 85; Kneses Hagedola 671; Elya Raba 671:3; Olas Shmuel 105; Pischeiy Teshuvah; M”B 671:9 and 675:9; Kaf Hachaim 671:16; 675:21; Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 [English]; Minhag Beis Harav, brought in Toras Menachem 5750 2:51; Likkutei Sichos 30:312 “Practically, we do not find that women would light candles on their own”; Toras Menachem 4:233; See Shulchan Menachem 3:274; Minhag Yisrael Torah 671:1

The reason: Although the Ashkenazi custom is for all household members to light, nevertheless, the custom is for wives to follow the letter of the law, and not to light their own Menorah and rather fulfill their obligation through their husband. The reason for this is because one’s wife is like his body and it is thus considered as if she lit the candles. [Elya Raba 671:3; M”B 671:9] Alternatively, women are considered nullified to men in this regard and are hence not included in the Mitzvah of Mehadrin. [Olas Shmuel 105 brought in M”B 675:9] Alternatively, the reason is because women are not expert in the blessings. [Mishmeres Shalom 48:2, brought in Sefer Haminhagim ibid] Alternatively, because they are not expert in the laws of how it is to be done. [Likkutei Sichos 30:312; Toras Menachem 4:233] Alternatively, the reason is because originally when the custom was to light outside the home, women did not light candles as “Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Penima”. [Chasam Sofer Shabbos 21b]

[8] See Olas Shmuel 105; Pischeiy Teshuvah; M”B 675:9; Kaf Hachaim 675:21; Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 [English]; Minhag Yisrael Torah 671:1

[9] See Poskim ibid; Machatzis Hashekel 677:8 in name of Shiltei Giborim [brought in Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 footnote 623] “The Mehadrin have every family member light candles, whether men or women”; Rambam Chanukah 4 “Whether for men or for women”; Kaf Hachaim 671:16

[10] Olas Shmuel 105; Pischeiy Teshuvah; M”B 675:9; Kaf Hachaim 675:21; Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 [English]; Minhag Beis Harav, brought in Toras Menachem 5750 2:51; Likkutei Sichos 30:312 “Practically, we do not find that women would light candles on their own”

The reason:  Although the Ashkenazi custom is for all household members to light, nevertheless, the custom is for daughters to follow the letter of the law not to light their own Menorah and fulfill their obligation through their father. The reason for this is because women are considered nullified to men in this regard and are hence not included in the Mitzvah of Mehadrin. [Olas Shmuel 105 brought in M”B 675:9] Alternatively, the reason is because women are not expert in the blessings. [Mishmeres Shalom 48:2, brought in Sefer Haminhagim ibid] Alternatively, because they are not expert in the laws of how it is to be done. [Likkutei Sichos 30:312] Alternatively, the reason is because it is improper for daughters to light in face of the mother who is not lighting. [Sefer Haminhagim ibid]

The Chabad custom: As stated above from Sefer Haminhagim, the Chabad custom is for girls not to light candles. Nonetheless, in the year 1988 the Rebbe stated that even girls are to light candles if it will add to their education in a positive way. [Hisvadyus 5748 Vol. 2:91] However, the next year the Rebbe was asked by Neshei Ubnos Chabad if this instruction applies for the coming year as well, and the Rebbe answered that this question belongs to a Rav. The widespread custom today amongst daughters of Anash is not to light candles, as is the custom mentioned in Sefer Haminhagim.

[11] M”B 675:9 in name of Olas Shmuel 105

[12] The reason: As the Ashkenazi custom is to allow each person of the house to light their own candles and women are included in this law. [ibid]

[13] See M”A 677:1; Machatzis Hashekel ibid

[14] M”B 675:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 675:4; See Halacha 4

[15] Mishmeres Shalom 48:1

[16] The reason: As some Poskim hold that they do not fulfill the blessing of Sheasa Nissim with the household lighting unless they are present and hear the blessings. [Michaber 677:3 as explained in M”B 677:14 [contradicts 676:3]; Mordechai; Biur Hagr”a in name of Rashi; Elya Raba; Bach; Peri Chadash; brought in M”B ibid; Shaar Hatziyon 676:9] Likewise, today that we light inside, it is important to have as many household members by the lighting as is possible in order to publicize the miracle. [See Rama 672:2; M”B 672:10]

[17] Michaber 676:3 [contradicts 677:3]; M”A 676:1; Taz 676:4; Birkeiy Yosef 676:3; M”B 676:6; 677:14; Kaf Hachaim 676:24; 677:23; Piskeiy Teshuvos 675:3; In Rishonim: Rashba; Ran; Smag

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the blessing of Sheasa Nissim and Shehechiyanu is to be recited by the household members upon seeing the candles. [Michaber 677:3 as explained in M”B 677:14 [contradicts 676:3]; Mordechai; Biur Hagr”a in name of Rashi; Elya Raba ; Bach; Peri Chadash; brought in M”B ibid; Shaar Hatziyon 676:9] Practically, the blessing is not to be recited as Safek Brachos Lihakel. [M”B 676:6; 677:14; Kaf Hachaim 676:24; 677:23] However, some Poskim rule that the blessing of Sheasa Nissim is to be recited by one who was not present at that time. [Ashel Avraham Tinyana 675 “even a girl over Chinuch who did not hear the blessing must say it upon seeing the candles.”]

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