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Past Articles:
LIGHTING THE HANUKAH MENORAH

By: Rabbi Daniel D. Levy

1

 

                      What is the common procedure for after
               lighting the Hanukah candles? 

It is customary to recite the “Hanerot Halalu” hymn (found in most siddurim) after lighting the first candle. Others wait to recite this hymn until after lighting all of the candles, followed by Psalm 30 “Mizmor Shir Hanukat HaBayit…” As a segulah(good omen) for protection at this point, some recite “Vehe Noam” (the last verse of Psalm 90) seven times, followed by Psalm 91 “Yoshev Beseter.” It is customary as well to sing the “Maoz Tzur” after lighting the candles. 

2

 

                      May one fulfill their obligation with an
               electric Menorah? 

Although some non-observant Jews feel a sense ofconnection to the holiday of Hanukah by having an electric Menorah on during the holiday, it is not a halachically viable means for one to fulfill his obligation to light Hanukah candles. Nonetheless, some maintain that in addition to lighting a real Menorah, it is permissible to place an electric Menorah in a business or public area without a berachah, to commemorate the miracle, in a situation where a real Menorah can’t be lit. 

3

 

               How should a traveling family fulfill their
               obligation of lighting when staying overnight
               at parents or in-laws?  

It is recommended that the traveling family should “chip in” and give the one who lights a small sum of money. By doing so the traveling family forms a partnership with the family who owns the Menorah, and both families share in the cost of the wicks and oil or the candles being lit. The host (family member or friend) should light the Menorah with the berachot, keeping in mind the others who are intending to fulfill their obligation with his lighting. (ShulhanAruch O.C. (687,1)

Hacham Ben Tzion (Or Letzion V. 4 Ch. 47 Halachah 3) explains that if the visiting family has exclusive use of the bedroom where they are sleeping [where others don’t even come in to take clothes from a dresser] they may light in their bedroom and recite the berachot, although it is preferable for them not to recite the berachotand to hear the berachotfrom the host and answer amen, and then go light in their room. Since other opinions disagree, a halachic authority should be consulted in this matter.

If a father visits his son and is fulfilling his obligation to light through his son’s lighting, it is appropriate to honor the father and have him light the Menorah. Thereby the son fulfills the mitzvah of Kibbud Av.If an Ashkenaz family is staying by a Sephardic family and they insist on lighting their own separate Menorah, in accordance with their custom to light more than one Menorah per household, they may do so.

4

 

               Should a husband light late when he arrives
               from work and the kids are sleeping or
               should the wife light with the children
               earlier, without the husband? 

If the husband arrives at a reasonable time while the family members are still awake (such as 7:30 or 8:30 p.m.) although it is not the most preferable time to light, the family members should wait for him and light then.

However, if he arrives very late,such as 10:30 p.m. or later, and the family members will be sleeping, the wife should light with the children at the most opportune time to light or shortly afterwards with the berachot.The husband should attempt to see a lit Menorah and should not lightwhen arriving home.

5

 

               Is it preferable to light with cottonseed
               or canola oil in the absence of olive oil or
               is it preferable to use candles when olive
               oil is not available? 

In the absence of olive oil, a different type of oil should be used in order to remember that the miracle in the Beit Hamikdashwas with oil. This is provided that the non-olive oil lights will burn for an extended period of time with a clear light. Otherwise, candles should be used.

6

 

               What should one do if the light of the
               Menorah went out?  

If the lights blow out after being lit in a place where the wind shouldn’t cause the flames to become extinguished, although one is not required to relight the Menorah, he may do so without reciting a berachah. One may intentionally extinguish the flames (although not by blowing them out) after they have been lit for half an hour when safety is of concern (ex: if the family is leaving the house to go to a Hanukah party) assuming they were lit in the proper time. However, on Friday evening if the Hanukah candles blew out and one has already lit the Shabbat candles and accepted Shabbat but it is before sunset (the official onset of Shabbat), he may ask someone to relight the Hanukah candles. Relighting should be done from a new flame, not from the other existing flames, as it is prohibited to use these flames, except for the Shamash.

7

 

               Is a blind man obligated to light the Menorah?

Hacham Ovadiah Yosef, A”H, (in Chazon Ovadiah pg. 113) rules that a blind man who is married should have his wife light the candles and make the berachoton his behalf. If he is single and lives alone he may light and make all the berachot, since he is fully obligated in all mitzvot, and through his act of lighting there is “Persumay Nissa”(publicizing the miracle) that others can see.

8

 

               What should an American boy temporarily
               living in Israel do regarding lighting the
               Hanukah candles? 

There is a three way dispute amongst the halachic authorities in this manner regarding a Sephardic boy who is not yet married. There is a minority lenient opinion that even though he is in a different time zone, as long as his parents are financially supporting him and have him in mind while lighting, he is covered by them to fulfill his obligation of lighting. The majority of poskimrecommend the boy light in Israel or at least chip in with others in his dorm room to form a partnership in the wicks and oil. If he prefers to chip in, he should then listen to the berachotof the person who lights and answer “amen,”having in mind to fulfill his obligation through that individual’s berachotand candle lighting. The person lighting should likewise have in mind that he is a messenger of the one who is listening, to help him fulfill his obligation of lighting the candles.

Some authorities permit the American boy to light himself and to make the berachotwhile lighting, while others maintain he should light without reciting the berachot. The prevalent opinion regarding an Ashkenaz boy is clearly for him to light and recite the berachot following the opinion of the Ramah [as this is considered Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin].

9

 

               If one arrives home late from work,
               should he pray Arbit first or go home
               to light the candles first? 

One should pray Arbit first because of the ruleTadir Vesheino Tadir Kodem(the more frequently performed mitzvah should be done before the less frequently performed one). Furthermore, the reciting of Shema at night is a biblical mitzvah, as opposed to the mitzvah of lighting the Hanukah candles which is Rabbinic in nature. Because both mitzvotcan be performed – just not at the same time – reciting of Shema comes first, even though lighting of Hanukah candles fulfills the important mitzvaof publicizing Hashem’s miracle. (Hazon Ovadiah pg. 71 – Laws ofHanukah).

10

 

               If one is away on business or vacation
               in a place where there are no observant
               Jews lighting in the city, should this
               individual light there?  

If one is in a place which has no observant Jews, even though his family is lighting at home, he nonetheless lights with a berachah (Shulhan Aruch c.c. 677;3). The Ben Ish Hai explains that one who is on a boat, or in the house of non-Jews, must light witha berachah. Because there is no Pirsumai Nissa(publicizing the miracle) in these places where there are no other Jews lighting, his position is different from that of someone visiting a friend or family member who is publicizing the miracle by lighting Hanukah candles. (Hazon Ovadiah pg. 158 Hilchot Hanukah). Other opinions maintain lighting should be done without a berachahin this situation.