Beit Midrash

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

Lighting the candles on Friday night

Where should I light if i'm staying at somone else's house for Shabbat? Should we light before or after Havdalah?


Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

The sages established that the Hanukkah candles should be lighted "after sunset" (Shabbat XXI, b). The common interpretation is that this means at nightfall, when the miracle will be better publicized, because on the one hand there are still many people in the street, and on the other hand, since it is already dark the candle light is clearly visible.

On Friday night, however, it is clear we cannot light candles after sunset, because at sunset Shabbat comes in and it is forbidden to light fire. It is also forbidden to light fire just before sunset on Friday, because of the Mitzvah to add from the profane to the sacred and to welcome the Sabbath before sunset. In practice, most communities welcome the Sabbath twenty minutes before sunset, and that is the candle lighting time printed in the tables. On the Sabbath of Hanukkah one should light Hanukkah candles before lighting the Shabbat candles.

However, since the main publicizing of the miracle is done at night, we have to make sure to have enough oil in the candles, so that they will stay lit for a half hour after sunset.

Hanukkah candle lighting time on Friday night in Jerusalem
In Jerusalem it is the custom to bring in Shabbat about forty minutes before sunset. On Hanukkah, however, many delay Shabbat candle-lighting to twenty minutes before sunset, in order light Hanukkah candles closer to sunset (Eretz Israel Luach). Some people do not change the usual candle Lighting time, and light Hanukkah candles before the Shabbat candles, however they must make sure to have enough oil in the candles so that they will remain lit until a half hour after sunset (Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim D.,62).

Early Mincha on Friday of Chanukah
On the Friday of Chanukah it is recommended to doven Mincha-Gdola so that one would light the candle after Mincha. The reason for this is that Mincha belongs to the previous day while the candle lighting belongs to the coming night. However, one should not doven individually for this reason. So if someone did not doven before candle-lighting he should light candles and run to shul for Mincha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim,679 A., Mishna Brura 2 on; Kaf HaChaim 671, 79).

Lighting Chanukah Candles on Saturday night (Motzaei Shabbat)
First we doven Ma'ariv and then we light Hanukkah candles. A lot of people make Havdalah before lighting candles, because the Havdalah ends the Sabbath and the Hanukkah candles belong to the next day (TZ 681, 1. Aroh"s b. Ben Ish Hai Vayeshev XXI). Some tend to light candles first, In order to light the candles as close as possible to nightfall, and to delay the Havdalha as much as possible in order to continue to some extent the sanctity of the Sabbath. And even though they had not yet made Havdala, there is no prohibition to light Chanukah candles, because after they said "Ata Honantanu" – the Havdalah in Ma'ariv or: "Blessed is he that he seperates sacred and profane" they are allowed to do work (Shulchan Aruch Rema 681, a).
In fact, both practices have a place in Halacha, and any person may choose his own custom.

A Family Hosted on Shabbat
A family that is hosted for the whole of Shabbos at another family's house, on that Shabbos the host's home is regarded as their home. Therefore, they should give their hosts a penny on Friday night to buy a share in the candles, and they are not obligates to light their own candles. The Ashkenazi custom is that the guests will light their own candles. If the guests are given a separate apartment, according to all customs they should light candles in a that apartment.

A Family Hosted on Shabbat Returning home on Saturday night
A family that is hosted for the whole of Shabbos at another family's house, and intend to return home after shabbos, if they intend to return home right after Shabbat, they should light candles in their homes. If, however, they intend to return later, when people are no longer in the streets, it is better that they would light at their hosts as they did on Friday night. If they do not intend to leave straight after Shabbat, and on the other hand not too late, they can decide where they want to fulfill this Mitzvah, since we can see them as being both at their house and at their hosts' house. (Pniney Halacha Zmanim XIII, 10).

This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site
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