the laws of
THE LAWS OF
memory of Yissachar Dov Shmuel bar Yakov Yehuda Illoway
and Leah Ruth Illoway
bat Natan Naso Jacobs
11: The Laws of
The Proper Place to
Light Neirot Chanuka (2)
The Traveler and
Last week, we studied the laws
relating to the proper place to light neirot Chanuka in private homes and
apartment buildings, and we noted the different customs to light either indoors
This week, we will study the laws of
an "akhsanai" (a lodger), and how these laws apply to guests, travelers,
dormitory students and those who have no house, such as soldiers sleeping
outside. Finally, we will address
the custom to light in synagogues and at public events.
The Gemara (Shabbat 23a)
"R. Sheshet said: A lodger is
obligated in ner Chanuka.
R. Zeira said: At first,
when I would visit the house of Rav, I would share the costs with the host. After I was married, I concluded that
now I certainly don’t need [to light], as [she] is lighting for me at my
Two halakhot emerge from this
1) A guest may fulfill his obligation
by sharing the costs of the Chanuka lights with the host.
2) A traveler may fulfill his
obligation through the lighting performed by somebody else in his
Regarding the first halakha,
the Ran (10a in the Rif) explains that R. Sheshet initially equated the
obligation of hadlakat neirot with mezuza, a pure chovat
bayit (obligation of the house, as opposed to a personal obligation), and
therefore thought that a guest would not be obligated to light neirot
Chanuka at all. He ultimately
concluded that a guest is, in fact, obligated. It remains unclear, however, which
aspect of his initial assumption he rejected. He perhaps concluded that hadlakat
neirot is in fact a chovat gavra (personal obligation), and therefore
remains binding even if one resides in another person's home, or, he may have
accepted the classification of ner Chanuka as a chovat bayit, but
nevertheless held that it applies even to a traveler, who must participate in
the host’s expenses in order to fulfill this
In any event, the Shulchan
Arukh (677:1) rules in accordance with this Gemara, teaching that a guest
who has nobody lighting for him back home, and who does not have a separate
entrance where he lodges, should fulfill his obligation by sharing in the host’s
expenses for the oil. The
Acharonim discuss the question of whether or not the host must actually
add some oil as the guest's share (see Magen Avraham 677:1). The Magen Avraham also comments
that the guest may pay for the additional oil, or the host may give him an extra
portion as a gift.
R. Yaakov Chaim Sofer (1870-1939), in
his Kaf Ha-chayim, writes that the guest should explicitly state that he
gives the money to the host to acquire a share in the costs of the lights. The
host should then respond that he transfers a portion of the lights in exchange
for the money he received.
Nowadays, it is customary among
Ashkenazim to kindle their own Chanuka lights rather than rely upon the lighting
of the ba'al ha-bayit (host).
One possible explanation for this practice is that it stems from the
mehadrin min ha-mehadrin standard, which requires each member of the
household to light. Even if a guest
fulfills the basic obligation through the host’s lighting, the higher standard
of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin might require him to light his own
R. Yaakov b. Moshe Moellin (the “Maharil”), in his
responsa (145), records the custom among guests in his day (14th
century) not to share the costs of the host's lights, and to instead light
personally. He attributes this to
the concern that people might suspect that he did not light (and not to the
mehadrin min ha-mehadrin practice).
Others (Darkhei Moshe 677) imply that despite this custom, one may
still share the costs with the host, and need not be concerned with the
possibility of suspicion.
The Mishna Berura (677:7) cites
the view requiring guests to kindle their own lights in order to avoid
suspicion, but he then dismisses this argument. He rules in accordance with the view of
the Magen Avraham (3) that only guests who stay in quarters with a
separate entrance must light their own lights. Nevertheless, the Mishna Berura
concludes that a guest should kindle his own lights, whenever possible, in order
to fulfill the mehadrin min ha-mehadrin.
Although this is indeed the common
practice, R. Eliyahu Schlesinger, in his compendium Ner Ish U-Veito (p.
368), suggests that that a lodger’s lighting might be halakhically meaningless
if he does not formally join his host's household. The obligation of ner Chanuka
requires lighting in one’s bayit (a home), and a guest does not have a
“home” where to light unless he becomes part of his host’s household. R. Schlesinger therefore suggests, in
contrast to the Mishna Berura's position, that a lodger must share the
costs of the lights in order to fulfill the mitzva!
May a traveler whose wife lights for
him at home still light his own candles where he sleeps?
As we saw in the Gemara, if a person has
a wife or other family member back home who lights the Chanuka candles, he need
not participate in the costs of his host’s lights. The Terumat Ha-deshen (101) cites
two opinions as to whether this lodger may kindle his own lights with the
berakhot. The Maharil
(Teshuvot 145) observed that most guests in his time lit on their own
even in such situations. He held
that a guest in this case may even recite the berakhot, as he presumably
has in mind not to fulfill his obligation through his wife's lighting. The Beit
Yosef (677) disagree, and renders his blessing a "berakha le-vatala" (a
blessing in vain).
Ostensibly, one might relate this
question to our definition of mehadin min ha-mehadrin. According the
Sefardic tradition, which demands that only the head of the household lights,
then once one's wife lights a home, her husband should have no reason to light
his own candles. According the Ashkenzic tradition, however, which mandates that
each and every member of the household should light, then seemingly even if
one's wife lit at home, he should still light his own neirot Chanuka!
Indeed, the Eliya Raba (677:4)
cites the Sha'ar Efraim, who suggested this interpretation. The Eliya
Raba, as well as the Prei Megadim, rejects this reasoning, and suggests
other reasons why even according to Ashkenazic tradition a traveler whose wife
lights for him at home might not be encouraged to light his own candles.
The Rema (677:3) rules that a traveler
whose family lights for him back home may still light, with the
berakhot. The Levush
(1), Taz (1), Magen Avraham (1) and other Acharonim rule in
accordance with the Rema, whereas the Maharshal and Peri Chadash
The Mishna Berura (15), while
not censuring those who light with the berakhot in such a case, suggests
that one should listen to somebody else’s berakhot rather than recite
them personally, given the difference of opinion among the authorities in this
Defining One's Home- One who Eats and
Sleeps in Different Places
Clearly, one who eats and sleeps at
home should light neirot Chanuka at his own home. The Taz (677:2) criticizes the
mistaken practice of dinner guests who light in their hosts' homes instead of
their own, for "this is no different than if they had been standing in the
street during candle lighting, where lighting is certainly not applicable."
(Later we will discuss the case of one who has no home.) Clearly, then, if one visits friends or
family for dinner and plans to return home, he must light Chanuka candles at
home, and not with his hosts.
A more complex question involves
guests who sleep in one place but eat somewhere else. Where should one light
Chanuka candles in such a case?
The Tur (677) cites his father,
the Rosh, as ruling that a person in this instance should light in the place
where he sleeps, for otherwise, if he
lights in the house where he eats, people might suspect that he didn't
light neirot Chanuka at all.
The Rema, in his Darkhei Moshe
commentary to the Tur, notes that the Rashba (Teshuvot 1:542)
disagrees, and rules that one who eats in somebody else's house must share in
the host’s lighting expenses, even if he sleeps elsewhere. In other words, he understands that the
place where one eats determines his status regarding the obligation of
R. Yosef Karo, in his Shulchan
Arukh (677:1), rules that one who has a private entrance to his residence
should light there, even if he regularly eats elsewhere. The Rema disagrees, citing the Rashba,
and writes, "Some say that nowadays, when we light inside the house, one should
light in the place where he eats, and such is the custom…"
The Acharonim, as we shall see,
debate the practical question of whether the halakha follows the Rosh or
This debate may also affect one who
stays at a hotel during Chanuka, and sleeps in his room but eats in the hotel’s
dining hall. According to the Rosh,
he should seemingly light in the place where he sleeps. The Rashba, however, might rule that one
should light in the dining room. However, since the entrance to the building
might likely be considered the "entrance of one's courtyard adjacent to the
reshut ha-rabim," it may be
the preferred location for lighting.
This indeed seems to be the custom in many hotels, especially due to fire
safety concerns. (One should keep
in mind that one who travels alone, leaving his family back home, may in any
event rely on the their lighting at home, if necessary.)
A similar question arises when one
travels for just one night. When
one goes away for Shabbat, for example, and returns home on Saturday night,
where should he light Chanuka candles that night? Is his status determined by
the place where he slept the night before, or the place where he intends to
sleep that night? Some suggest that
if one can return home in time to light while there are still people outside,
then he should quickly return home after Shabbat and light there (see Chovat
Ha-dar, chapter 1, note 65).
Others, however, maintain that one may light in his host’s house, before
returning home, particularly if he will be returning home late (Yemei Hallel
Ve-hoda'ah, p. 274, in the name of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach).
Much has been written regarding the
question of where yeshiva students should light Chanuka candles. We have already briefly discussed (see
whether Sephardic students should light, or whether their obligation is
fulfilled through their families’ lighting at home. Students of Ashkenazic
descent, however, should certainly light, either to fulfill the mehadrin min
ha-mehadrin standard, or quite possibly even to fulfill the basic
mitzva of ner ish u-veito, which they likely no longer fulfill
through their parents’ lighting back home, as they fundamentally live
independently from their parents.
Very often, students eat and sleep at
their school or yeshiva in different rooms, or even in different buildings (if
the cafeteria and dormitory are situated in different places on the campus, as
is frequently the case). Where
should one light in such a situation?
R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot
Moshe, Y.D. 3, 14:5, and O.C. 4, 70:3) maintains that students should light
where they sleep, as the dining room is communal and not designated specifically
for any particular student. He also
advises students to "draw lots" to determine who should stay and watch the
lights, to prevent a fire. R.
Yitzchak Weiss (Minchat Yitzchak 7:48), R. Binyamin Zilber (Az
Nidberu 5, 38:2) and R. Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Ha-levi 3:83)
concur. Some suggest one who lights
in a dormitory room should light at the door, facing outward towards the
hallway, while others prefer lighting at the window (R. Feinstein).
By contrast, the Chazon Ish
(see Teshuvot Ve-hanhagot 2 342:11) and R. Aharon Kotler (cited by R.
Shimon Eider in his Halakhos of Chanukah, p. 37) rule that one should light
where he eats, in accordance with the aforementioned ruling of the Rema.
R. Moshe Harari, in his Mikra’ei
Kodesh (Chanuka, p. 100, note 101), cites R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as
commenting (in personal conversation with R. Harari) that students may light
neirot Chanuka either in the entrance to their dormitory building or the
cafeteria, but not in their rooms, due to safety concerns. This is, indeed, the custom in R.
Auerbach’s yeshiva, Kol Torah, in Jerusalem. Students at Yeshiva University also light at the entrance to
their dormitory buildings.
On the Road- One Who Travels Without a
May one fulfill the mitzva of
ner Chanuka outside of a house? For example, may one traveling on a
train, or camping in an open field, light neirot
In a previous shiur
(http://vbm-torah.org/archive/moadim69/07-69moed.htm), we questioned whether we
should define the mitzva of ner Chanuka as a chovat bayit –
an obligation upon the house, similar to mezuzah – or a chovat
gavra – a personal mitzva performed in the home. Clearly, one who views the obligation as
a chovat bayit would not require lighting in the situations mentioned
(just as one is obviously not obligated in mezuza if he has no
home). If, however, we view the obligation as a
chovat gavra, then the question arises as to whether the obligation
remains applicable even in the absence of a home.
Although the Rishonim do not
explicitly address this question, later authorities inferred from a number of
sources that the obligation of ner Chanuka requires a house. Tosafot (Sukka 46b s.v. ha-ro’eh)
explain that the berakha of "she-asa nissim" was instituted to
enable "those who do not have houses and who are unable to fulfill the
mitzva" to participate in the mitzva of Chanuka. This comment assumes that people without
homes do not light Chanuka candles.
Similarly, Rashi (Shabbat 23a s.v. ha-ro’eh) explains that
this berakha is intended for one who has not yet lit in his house, and
for one traveling by boat, who does not light. Rashi does not explain, however, why a
boat is not considered a house.
Furthermore, the Rambam (4:1) writes that "the mitzva [of Chanuka]
entails that each and every house light,” implying that the mitzva must
be performed in (or by) a house.
By contrast, the Ran (Shabbat 10a s.v.
amar), as cited earlier, seemingly understood the Gemara as establishing
that the mitzva is not a chovat bayit, but rather a personal
The Acharonim indeed address
this question. Earlier, we cited
the Taz (677:2) as criticizing the mistaken practice of dinner guests who
light in their hosts' homes instead of their own, noting that "this is no
different than if they had been standing in the street during candle lighting,
where lighting is certainly not applicable." This certainly implies that one
without a house may not light Chanuka candles. R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe
Y.D. 3, 14:5) and R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shelmo, p. 257)
Some Acharonim maintain that
although one must light in a "house,” even a temporary residence may be
considered a “house” in this respect.
For example, R. Shalom Mordechai ben Moshe Shvadron (the “Maharsham,”
1835 – 1911), in his responsa (4:146), writes that one may light while traveling
on a train, because he in effect "rents" his cabin. The Arukh Ha-shulchan
Interestingly, R. Aharon Lichtenstein
(http://www.vbm-torah.org/chanuka/05chanal.htm) accepts the assumption that one
may light only in a "bayit,” yet questions whether a "bayit" must,
by definition, be a roofed enclosure, or whether any fixed dwelling place, even
without a roof, would suffice.
Furthermore, he insists that one must have dwelled in this place for a
minimum amount of time, either a week or thirty days, and therefore campers who
sleep in a certain place for less than a week should not light neirot
Chanuka, and should instead rely on the lighting performed in their
homes. R. Auerbach apparently also
shared this doubt, as he ruled that while soldiers who sleep in the open fields
should not light, those sleeping in trenches should light without reciting the
Others maintain that the requirement
of "bayit" is optimal, but not mandatory, and therefore, one may even
light without a house. R. Eliezer
Waldenberg, for example, in his Tzitz Eliezer (15:29), defines the
mitzva as one which is incumbent "a-karkafta de-gavra,” upon each
and every head, and thus does not depend upon a house. R. Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu
Regarding soldiers, R. Waldenberg
(above) maintains that they should light, next to their beds, with the
berakhot. R. Tzvi Pesach
Frank (Mikra’ei Kodesh – Chanuka, 18, note 3) ruled in 1974 that while
soldiers who sleep in tents which protect them from the rain may light neirot
Chanuka, those who sleep in open fields should not. R. Ovadya Yosef (Chazon Ovadya,
p. 156) rules that soldiers sleeping outside should light without reciting the
R. Yosef Zvi Rimon analyzes this
question at length in his "Ner Chanuka Le-Chayal Ve-la’mateyel"
(Be-orekha Nireh Or, 2004).
Lighting in Synagogues and other
The custom to light Chanuka candles in
the synagogue is mentioned already by the Rishonim. R. Yitzchak ben Abba Mari
(12th century, France), for example, in his Sefer Ha-ittur
(Chanuka 114), discusses this practice and cites different customs as to whether
the lights are kindled in the center of the synagogue or in the entrance.
The Rishonim suggest numerous
reasons for this practice. R.
Avraham b. R. Natan (Provence, 12th century) explains
that we light in the “mini-Mikdash” (see Megilla 29a) to publicize the
miracle that occurred in the Beit Ha-mikdash. The Ritva (Shabbat 23a) explains that we
light in a synagogue "to publicize the miracle in a public place." Some Rishonim (Mikhtam,
Pesachim 101b; Abudraham – Seder Ma'ariv shel Shabbat) suggest
that the synagogue lighting enables those who have no house to at least recite
the berakhot upon seeing the lights, just as kiddush is recited in
the synagogue for the sake of those who will not recite kiddush on their
Interestingly, the Rivash (111)
suggests that once it became customary to light neirot Chanuka indoors,
out of fear of the surrounding non-Jews, the authorities enacted that
communities should light in their synagogues, in order to properly publicize the
miracles of Chanuka.
R. Tzidkiya b. Avraham Ha-Rofei
(13th century, Italy), in his Shibolei
Ha-leket, asserts that lighting in the synagogue is halakhically
superfluous, and therefore questions whether the berakhot should be recited upon this
lighting. The Shulchan Arukh
(671:1), however, codifies the practice of lighting in the synagogue with the berakhot, explaining that this lighting serves the
purpose of pirsumei nisa.
The Rema adds that these candles are lit in between the Mincha and
Some Acharonim (R. Moshe
Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe O.C. 1:190) write that the one who lights in the
synagogue repeats all the berakhot – including she-asa nissim and
she-hechiyanu – upon kindling his own lights at home. Others (R. Ovadya Yosef, Yechave
Da'at 2:77) rule that he omits these two berakhot, unless he recites
them for his family.
In some communities, it is customary
to kindle Chanuka lights with the berakhot in all public places. This issue should seemingly depend upon
the reason for the synagogue lighting.
If we light in the synagogue to commemorate the lighting in the Beit
Ha-mikdash, or for the sake of those with no home, then certainly there is
no reason to light with berakhot in
other public settings. However, the
Ritva's reasoning, that we light in a synagogue to publicize the miracle, might
apply to other public areas, as well.
The Minchat Yitzchak (6 65:3)
and Tzitz Eliezer (15 30; 22 37:1) object to this practice, while R.
Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 5:37) supports the custom. R. Ovadya Yosef
(Yabia Omer 7, 57:6; Chazon Ovadya, p. 47) defends the practice,
though he recommends praying at the site of the lighting to lend it the status
of a “synagogue” in this respect.
The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994), encouraged his followers to light in
public places in order to publicize the miracles of Chanuka, in line with the
reasoning of the Ritva (cited above).
It is customary to light at the
Western Wall, as it functions as a synagogue year round (Az Nidberu 6, p.
137; Chazon Ovadya, p. 47).
Next week we will study the procedure
for lighting the neirot Chanuka and reciting the berakhot.