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Chanukah FAQs

11/25/2013 01:00:49 PM


Question: I live on a high floor in my apartment building. Where is the best place to light the Menorah?

Answer: The halacha is that one is not supposed to place the chanukah candles higher than 20 amot (approximately 35 feet) above the ground.  Many halachic authorities rule that one who lives on a high floor in an apartment building should therefore not light the menorah by the window, because a person standing on the street will not be able to see the candles. The preferable place would be light the menorah on a table next to the front door of the apartment, ensuring that it is safe to do so.

The Shevet HaLevi (Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner of Bnei Brak) however maintains that if there are apartment buildings opposite your own, such that your Menorah can clearly be seen by a neighbour then you may still light by the window. Note that this is true only if your Menorah is actually clearly visible to an apartment, eg across the street. If your apartment faces, for example, the River or Central Park  and your menorah is therefore not clearly visible then you should not light by the window.


Question: I live by myself and no one will see my Menorah - should I still recite a blessing on lighting Chanukah candles?

Answer: The Mishnah Brurah (472, 11) writes that if one arrives home late at night and has not yet lit the Chanukah candles, he should wake up one or two family members or roommates, because the Mitzvah of Chanukah candles is defined as Pirsumei Nisah - publicizing the miracle - and the lights must be seen by somebody else. If no one else will see the lights, one should light without reciting a bracha. 

However, Rav Moshe Feinstein maintains that even if no one else will see the candles, one should still make a bracha. Indeed the Mishnah Brurah himself accepts that this is the prevalent custom. Therefore one who lives alone in an apartment may still recite a blessing upon lighting the Menorah, even if the candles will not be visible to anyone else, inside or outside the apartment.


Shabbat Chanukah FAQs

(Courtesy of Community Scholar Elana Stein Hain)

Question: Do we light Chanukah candles first or Shabbat candles first?

Answer: We light Chanukah candles first, making sure that there is enough oil or a large/long enough candle to burn for 30 minutes after nightfall. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 679)


Question: Do we light Chanukah candles first or Havdalah candles first?

Answer: At shul, we light Chanukah candles first, but opinions differ as to what to do at home. Rabbi Yosef Karo says to perform Havdalah first, while Rabbi Moshe Isserles says to light Chanukah candles first*. The Mishnah Brurah writes that either way is correct, and one should follow family or local custom.  (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 681:2)

*If one has not davened Ma'ariv, one should recite Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh L'chol before lighting Chanukah candles.


Question: What is one major difference between Chanukah candles and Shabbat candles?

Answer: Shabbat candles are meant to be used for their light, while Chanukah candles may not be used for such personal benefit.

See our calendar for the proper menorah lighting times

Wed, July 17 2024 11 Tammuz 5784