• Laws of Chanukah I

  • Laws of Chanukah II

  • Laws of Chanukah III

Laws of Chanukah I
1. The Gemora makes reference to a time of lighting the Chanukah 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.

Laws of Chanukah II
1. To make a Chanukah party not focussed on Torah and praise of Hashem is a misconception of the holiday.
2. It is important that the lights of Chanukah should be visibly separate, not too close together.
3. If one has no windows that face the street one should light in the house, preferable on a table less than forty inches from the floor and more than a foot off the floor.
4. First, place the menora in proper position, then light.
5. Preferably it should be placed at the entrance of the room with the mezuza to the right and the menora to the left.
6. The lighting time is about 40 minutes after sunset, but in an emergency or on Erev Shabbos one may light even an hour before sunset.
7. If one lights before the proper time, enough oil should be in the cup to burn for a half hour after the proper lighting time. If possible, it is best to put enough oil to last until an hour and a half after sunset.
8. If one lights after the regular lighting time, then the oil should burn, at least, one half hour.
9. One may, in an emergency, light any time during the night, but the brocha should only be recited if the family members are still awake.
10. One should not benefit from the lights. Therefore, the shammosh should be larger or higher to indicate that it, and not the other lights, is being used. This also applies after the required time for the lights to remain lit has passed.
11. If old wicks create a better light, they could be used.
12. The custom is not to light one Chanukah light from another.
13. A woman whose husband lights on her behalf need not light. Otherwise, she is obligated to light, as is a single woman.
14. All the brochos are recited before the actual lighting. If one forgot before starting to light, then they may be recited until he finishes lighting. If one forgets altogether to make the brochos until after all the lights are lit, one may still recite the two brochos, "sheaso nissim" and "shehecheyanu", but not "lihadlik ner".
15. The lighting is from left to right, but the lights are arranged from right to left.
16. The mitzva of lighting is so precious, one should even sell ones coat to procure money to fulfill this mitzva.

Laws of Chanucah III
1. In Siman 676 the Shulchan Aruch quotes a halacha that one who did not light Chanukah lights, and will not be lighting them and they will not be lit at his home, he should, upon seeing the Chanukah lights of others, pronounce the brochos Sheaso Nisim and, if it is the first night, Shechecheyanu.
2. This implies that if others would be lighting at his home i.e. his wife or family, he would not recite these brochos.
3. In Siman 677 it says that even if one’s wife is lighting at home, if he is in a place where there are no Chanukah lights, he should light with a brocha, for he should see the Chanukah lights.
4. The poskim feel this is a contradiction and therefore feel that one should light the menorah to see the lights, but not to say the brochos (if his wife is lighting at home.)
5. However if he chooses not to fulfill the obligation with his wife’s lighting he may opt to fulfill the mitzva with his own lighting, in which case, he says all the brochos.
6. The Rema adds that this may be done even if he is able to view other’s lights.
7. The Mishna Brura quotes dissenting opinions that one has automatically fulfilled his obligation which is incumbent upon his home by the lighting of the menorah by his wife and cannot opt to do it on his own.
8. He suggests one of two methods:
a. to light the menorah wherever one might be, but to hear the brochos from someone who is reciting them for his obligation.
b. to light one’s menorah and instruct his wife to plan to light the menorah at home after he has already lit wherever he might be.
9. He further quotes the Chaye Odom who advises the first method for bussinessmen who are away from home.
10. The Aruch HaShulchan insists the custom is always to light one's own menorah and not to fulfill the mitzva with one’s wife’s lighting, when away from home.
11. In a case when one is away from home in a hotel, one should definitely light to be above suspicion, but the brochos depend on the previously mentioned controversy.
12. If, however, one is staying as a guest in the home of one who is also lighting, the following is the halacha.
a. Give a few pennies to the host to become a “partner” in the oil or candles and it is considered partly his. Some say, the host should add extra oil in this case.
b. Preferably, one should still light ones own lights.
c. The guest should be present to hear the brochos recited by the host if only one menorah is being lit.
13. A permanent boarder need not give money to the host for he is automatically included as a member of the household. He may, however, choose to light his own.