Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Laws of Hanukkah
To dedicate this lesson

Who is Obliged, and Who is Exempt from Chanukah Candles

Fulfilling the Mitzvah in the following cases, according to the Sephardic and Ashkenazi customs: lighting in the Synagogue, travelers, women, single and married children living at home and away from home, Yeshiva students, soldiers, roommates, mourners, and blind persons.


Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Zt"l

1) A married man who is away from his home during Chanukah: It is best that before he leaves, he should tell his wife to light and say the blessings at Tzeit Hakochavim (when the stars come out, meaning nightfall) and have in mind to Yotzei him (to fulfill his requirement as well as her own by her performance of the Mitzvah), and he should rely on her. In any case, when he arrives at his place of lodging he should light without saying the blessings. If possible, it is best that he hear the blessings from someone who is obliged to light, answer Amen and then light.

Women with Regard to Chanukah Candles
2) A woman is obliged in the Mitzvah of Chanukah candles. When her husband lights at home he Yotzeis her; however, he has to intend to Yotzei her and she has to intend to be Yotzeied by him (that his performance of the Mitzvah fulfills her obligation as well). Therefore, it is good that she should stand next to him when he lights the candles.
3) If her husband is away from home, the wife must light the candles and say the blessings. If she doesn't know how to say the blessings, another person who is Bar-Mitzvah (at least 13 years and one day old) can say the blessings for her, even though he already said the blessings and lit in his home. Then either she or he can light.

A Son above Age of Bar-Mitzvah
4) A son living in his father's house, even if according to the Halacha he is an adult, shouldn't light as long as he is still single, but instead rely upon his father's candle lighting. And if he is married and still living in his father's house, he should light without saying the blessings, but should stand by his father when he says the blessings and intend to be Yotzeied by his father's blessings.
5) A son who eats at his father's home but lives in a separate apartment, even in the same building, makes his own blessings when he lights.
6) The Ramah rules that every son who has reached gil chinuch (literally "the age of education," meaning that the child is able to learn to perform the Mitzvah with at least a minimal understanding of what he is doing) lights and says the blessings, and this is the Ashkenazi custom. But he cannot Yotzei others until he is thirteen years and one day old.

A Son below the age of Bar-Mitzvah
7) It is good to let one of one's young sons light the Shamash (the candle used for lighting the Mitzvah candles) in order to educate him in Mitzvot, as there is some degree of Mitzvah in the Shamash as well. But a child shouldn't be allowed to light the obligatory candles.
8) One of the household who has reached the age of Mitzvot can light the Hidur candles. (One candle a day is the minimum requirement for the Mitzvah, and the additional candles we customarily light are called Hidur candles). And even though in general, one who begins a Mitzvah is told "finish it," here, since the obligation to light is upon all the other adults of the household as well and they are also part of this Mitzvah of lighting, they can finish the Mitzvah. And if there is a special reason, an adult who is not part of the household can also be allowed to light.
9) There is one opinion that the man who lights in the synagogue should allow others to light the Hidur candles.

A Blind Man
10) A blind man: his wife lights and says the blessings. If he doesn't have a wife, and lives alone in his own home, he should light with the assistance of another but not say the blessings. And if he lives in a house with other people, he should participate with them by means of a p'rutah (a small amount of money, equal to 1/40th of a gram of silver), that is, he should pay part of the cost of the candles or oil, and therefore take part in the Mitzvah.

Yeshiva Students and Soldiers
11) A Yeshiva student or a soldier who is not married: according to the essential law, he is Yotzeied by his father's lighting for him; this is the same law as for a man whose wife lights for him in his home. And if he has a special room which is not in the parents' home or if he lives in a dormitory, he should light there without a blessing, or participate by means of a p'rutah with another person and hear the blessings from him.
12) There is an opinion that if one's father lights after the half-hour time of candle lighting, the son can light on time and intend not to be Yotzeied by his father's lighting.
13) A Yeshiva student or a soldier whose father doesn’t light candles at home, or the father lives in a different country such that the time difference is more than the half hour of lighting, the son must light and say the blessings in his room.
14) Ashkenazi Yeshiva students and soldiers, whose custom is that everyone in the house lights and says the blessings on his own, should light and say the blessings in the Yeshiva as well. And if several students live in the same room, everyone should bless and light for himself.

A Daughter Living on Her Own
15) A daughter living alone doesn't have to light and her requirement is fulfilled by her father's lighting. And if she doesn't have a father, or if he lives abroad or he doesn't light for her, she should light and say the blessings.

16) Two or three sharing an apartment; each one eats separately and they live in the same room:they should pool together the costs of the lighting and every one should light a different night.

A Mourner
17) One who is in mourning, even in the Shiva (seven days) must light and say all the blessings including Shehecheyanu (on the first night). An Onan (one whose deceased hasn't been buried yet) should light without any blessings, and it is preferable that his wife or someone else light for him. If his wife lights, she can say the blessings.
18) The Ashkenazi custom is that one who is in the first thirty days of mourning, or during all twelve months for his father or mother, doesn't light in the synagogue on the first night of Chanukah, since making the blessing Shehecheyanu may appear as a public Simcha (rejoicing). The Sephardim follow this custom only during the Shiva. (Similarly, the Sephardic custom allows one who is in the first thirty days of mourning, or year for a father or mother, to be Chazzan for Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and to say Hallel. The Ashkenazi custom is not to be Chazzan on these days.)
19) Even in a place where it is not the custom to call on a mourner to say the blessings, once he was called upon, he shouldn't be turned back.
20) One who prays in the home of a mourner (during the Shiva) says the Hallel with the blessings, and the mourner also says the Hallel with its blessings. And according to the (Ashkenazi) Mishnah Berurah, the mourner doesn't say Hallel during Chanukah. The reason the Sephardim rule that a mourner says Hallel on Chanukah is that this Hallel is an obligation, as opposed to the Hallel of Rosh Chodesh, which is a Minhag (custom).
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