• Laws of Chanukah I

Laws of Chanukah I

1. The Gemora makes reference to a time of lighting the Chanucah menora “from sundown until people no longer are walking outside”. The approximate time for this is one half-hour. The Gemora derives from this, according to one answer, that the measure of time for a menora to burn would be one half-hour. Although today we light in our homes, the "measure” still remains one half-hour.
2. The following laws would be affected by this time duration of one half hour:
a. One would be allowed to extinguish the flame after the one half-hour.
b. One would be permitted to use the lights for one’s own benefit after the one half-hour.
c. Oil left in the menora after the time would be usable.
d. If one was a partner with another party in the lighting of the menora there would be no purpose in adding extra oil to burn past the one half hour.
e. One could light another light from the menora after the one half-hour.
3. The previous opinion is expressed by the Shulchan Aruch. However, in each case the Mishna Brura quotes a second opinion that the mitzva continues for the duration of the time the oil burns, even past the half-hour.
4. Because of this opposing opinion the Mishna Brura suggests one should stipulate before one lights that only the first half-hour is the mitzva and then one may extinguish the light, etc.
5. This, of course, would apply if one must leave the house and wishes to extinguish the lights first.
6. However, there is an opinion that one should have it lit until the pedestrian traffic is not found in the street. Nowadays, this could be around the time people finish coming home from work, etc., about 7:30 pm.
7. However, if one is lighting just for himself with no access to a window, etc., one’s obligation is only the half hour.