Translation:Arukh ha-Shulchan/Orach Chaim/671

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This chapter contains twenty eight sections: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28

Section 1[edit]

As a result of the miracle of the Hanukkah candles, (the rabbis) decreed that we should light candles every night to remember the miracle (Tur). Everyone is required to be extremely careful with this decree, and even a poor person who is dependent on charity should borrow or sell his clothing to buy oil for lighting.(The reason for this is) because concerning anything that (one can do to) help to publicize the miracle one is required to do so, even a poor person, similar to the four cups (on Pesach). {Magid Mishna, Beit Yosef}

"One who is careful in this will be rewarded with children who are well versed in Torah studies, as the verse states (Proverbs 6:23): 'The commandment is the lamp and the Torah is the light' "(Gemara Shabbos, 23.2)

This verse teaches us the following: Because of the merit of the Shabbat and Hanukkah candles one will merit to be enlightened by the Torah.

Section 2[edit]

Furthermore, it seems to me that concerning the Hanukkah candles and the four cups of wine on Passover- there is no limit on what must be spent to be able to perform these commands. Although it is true that by all other (positive) commandments the limit to which one is required to spend (to beautify a commandment) is one third, as I have written in chapter 656 in the laws of Citrons (Etrogim), or one fifth (see Shabbat Rabbi Josh Flug), as I have written there, when it comes to a commandment which involves publicizing a miracle where a poor person is required to sell his clothing - there is no limit (to what one is required to spend to peform these commandments).

Section 3[edit]

How many candles should we light? The Talmud in Shabbat (21.2) says the following:

“ The commandment of Hanukkah is that every household light one candle. And those who wish to beautify the commandment (Mehadrin) should light one candle for each member of the household. And those who wish to beautify the commandment further (Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin) should on the first night light one candle and then go on to to add (1 per night).”

Our Rabbis the Baalei Ha’Tosaphot say that the Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin do not build upon the Mehadrin, who say to light for everyone, because (that would defeat) one of the main purposes (of the Hanukkah candles, which) is that people should see the candles and know what day of Hanukkah it is. If you were to light the Hanukkah candles depending on how many family members there are- you would have no idea what day of Chanukah it was! For example: (Lets say) someone sees four candles (in the window)… Possibility 1: There could just be one person in the house- and it was the fourth day of Chanukah. Possibility 2: It could be that there were 2 people in the house and it was the second day. Possibility 3: It could be that there are four people and it was the first day. [His message is clear: there has to be a set standard]. Therefore, we should only light one candle for the entire household one the first night, followed by two on the second night, and so on.

Section 4[edit]

However, Maimonides of blessed memory in the beginning of the fourth chapter wrote:

"How many candles [does one light?] ... each and every household should light one candle ... and one who wishes to glorify [the commandment] should light candles according to the number of the members of the household ... and those who wish to glorify further ... should light a candle for everyone on the first night, and continue to add ... [one candle per night]. How is this? Were the members of the household ten men, he lights on the first night ten candles, and on the second night, twenty candles ... and the common custom in all our cities in Spain is that all members of the household light one candle on the first night, and continue to add a candle every night, until it comes out that on the eighth night each lights eight candles, whether the members of the household are many, or whether there is one man."

Until here is the quote, though it should be noted that the custom of the people of Spain is as the Tosaphot.

Section 5[edit]

The Talmud brings two reasons why this is so. The first reason is to account for the days that are passing: In other words, one should know how many days of Hanukkah have passed, with the current day included in that number. This reason certainly seems closer to the position of Tosaphot, since if every member of the household lights, we would not know what day of Hanukkah it it, as I have written. But there is another reason: Because (with every passing day), the holiness (of Hanukkah) increases. This, apparently, is the final reason that the Talmud concludes with (as is evident from the account of the 'Elders of Tzidon', see there). According to this reason we are not interested in marking how many days have passed, which is certainly more in line with the Maimonides's position, that one can also follow the opinion of the Mehadrin (Vilna Goan). For this reason, we rule mainly like Maimonides. However, there is a question on Maimonides, who mentions the custom of the Sefard communities, which appear to be the opposite of his position. Why doesn’t he write that their behavior is not in accordance with the law, and why does he not protest their practice, since it is does not follow the direction of the discussion in the Talmud? (See the Lechem Mishna, who also asks similarly.)

Section 6[edit]

It is therefore more probable that the Talmudic dispute is not over the reason for this mitzvah (command), for one mitzvah may have many reasons. Rather, the dispute revolves around the rulings of Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel. Beis Shammai's position is that on the first day eight are lit, followed by seven on the next, and so on. Beis Hillel's position is that one is lit on the first day, followed by two on the next, and so on. Concerning this the Talmud in Shabbos is speaking: There is a disagreement (Machloket) concerning what Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai are actually arguing about. According to the first opinion, Beit Shamai is of the opinion that (the reason why you decrease is because) you need to mark the number of days coming up. According to Beit Hillel (the reason why you decrease is because you need to mark how many) days have passed. According to the second opinion, Beit Shamai is of the opinion that (the reason why you decrease is to represent) the waning holiness of Chanukah (just as the sacrifices in the Temple on the Sukkos Festival diminished each succeeding day). According to Beit Hillel it is the reverse, one should always commemorate holiness in a manner that shows it increasing [Ma'alin Bakodesh v'Ain Moreedin]. Truthfully though, Beit Hillel could have been agreeable to both reasons offered on their behalf [marking the passing days and the increasing holiness of the Holiday, and these reasons are not mutually exclusive.] [IS THIS LAST SENTENCE CORRECT? BEIS SHAMMAI DOESN'T SEEM MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE EITHER, WHY ONLY MENTION THIS ABOUT BEIS HILLEL?]

(This explanation is found in Masechet Sofrim as well, in the first chapter, law 5)

Section 7[edit]

However, this is not reflected in the words of Tosaphot, which I don't understand. Tosaphot says that if we light in accordance to how many people are in the house you would not be able to tell what day of Hanukkah it is. However, you could light in accordance to the members of the household and still be able to tell what day of Hanukkah it is, if each member of the household lights in a separate place, like we do. Then, you would be able to tell how many days of Hanukkah have passed!

However, there is an answer to their words, for the preferred approach is to light the candles at the entrance of the house facing the street, on the left side, within a hands-breadth of the entrance, as we will later explain. If this is the case, then it is necessary that all of the candles be in one place, and then there is a problem of recognizing what day of Hanukkah it is.

It should be noted that it is not the case that in all locations one must light near the house's entrance facing the street, as I will explain. That is why our communities have not seen the above law in practice, as all light within their homes. In such a situation even the Tosaphits would agree that one should follow Maimonides, and each should light in his own separate place, thereby ensuring that the right day will be recognized. See further in section 15.

Section 8[edit]

According to the preceding explanation all has been reconciled. The Tosafos rule as the Talmud, who lit at the entrance of their houses, and this was how the Sefard communities conducted themselves [unlike the practice quoted in Maimonides]. Maimonides was speaking of when one can only light within the house, or possibly even according to the Talmud, as he may have understood that it was allowing the option of choosing where to light, as each place has advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, he saw no reason to protest the behavior of the Sefard communities [apparently during times when they lit inside. IS THIS CORRECT?]

Now it is clear that our teacher the Beis Yosef would rule in section 2 as Tosafos, since this is theSefard custom. The Magid Mishna reports as well that this was the custom in his community. The Rema, for his part, rules as Miamonides, and here is his ruling:

"There are those who say that each member of the household lights, and that indeed is the accepted custom. One should therefore be careful that each places his menorah in a different location, so that it will be clear how many lights are being lit on each night."

Until here is the quote, and it is in accordance with Miamonides. Note that he is particular that each menorah be placed in its own location, which is as our custom to light within the house, and in this way even Tosafos would approve. The result here is that there really is no dispute in law, it is just a question of how its application changes depending on the location of the menorah.

(In this way the question of the Taz in comment 1 is also resolved, as he was puzzled that we should find the Ashkenazic communities ruling as Maimonides while the Sephardic rule as Tosafos. This entire explanation can also be found in the Keneses Yechezkel, in chapter 17. The Gra hints to this as well in comment 5, and this is then the accepted explanation. Attend to the sources and this will found to be correct.)

Section 9[edit]

Today, our custom is to follow Tosaphot, while Maimonides writes that everyone, both men and woman, should light the Menorah. Though this is theoretically correct, because woman are also obligated in the Mitzvah of lighting, just like men (according to Maimonides), we in our day have not heard of this practice followed. In fact, even if there are many male children who are over Bar Mitzvah they do not light their own menorahs, instead fulfilling their obligation through their father. This is true even for other men who dwell within the household, who at times light for themselves.

It seems to me that (our practice of following Tosaphot) also has a legitimate reason: Since we light the Hanukkah candles in the main room this beautifies the mitzvah, as many people are constantly coming in and leaving this room and the mitzvah is thereby publicized. If so, our situation has come to resemble that of the Talmudic period, where lighting took place in one location, and a multitude of menorahs would make distinguishing the day difficult. Furthermore, since one may fulfill his obligation by following either opinion, we do not worry over it, and one make pick whichever practice he desires, and we will judge him to be acting in the most conscientious and punctilious manner (Mehadrin Min Ha'mehadrin). Even if he does not meet this criteria, he still fulfills the obligation either way. (So it seems in my humble understanding) [IS THIS CORRECT?]

Section 10[edit]

One who does not have enough oil to give each light its necessary amount should put in one of the lights the necessary amount. Concerning the rest of them, you should put a little oil in each. The reason for this is that if equal oil is put in each none of the lights would have the required amount of oil, causing the blessings to be said in vain since this does not fulfill the Mitzvah. If one had enough oil for all the lights, but his friend does not have any, it is better for him to give enough oil to his friend and for him to light only one light. (Magen Avraham, comment 1). The reason is that it is better that he not fulfill the choicest approach (Mehadrin), but his friend fulfills the Mitzvah, then for him to fulfill the Mehadrin but his friend miss out on the Mitzvah entirely. It is not relevant to say here that he is sinning in order to help your friend, because he is also fulfilling the Mitzvah.

However, here one has to be very careful: For example, lets say it is the fourth day of Hanukkah, and he remembers to give oil to his friend like I have written. His friend has four lights. When he gives his friend enough oil for one light per night, he should light one light, not three, as lighting three lights on the fourth day has no significance. Similarly, one who does not have enough oil for himself for that day should only light that day, and he will at least fulfill the basic requirement.

Section 11[edit]

An oil lamp (or candelabra) that has two mouths (or candles) can be used for two people, providing that they are lighting one candle per person every night. If they plan to add candles each night they should not both use wicks in one bowl (or one candelabra), for then it will not be possible to tell from their lights how many candles are supposed to be lit on any given day (Magen Avraham, comment 2). However, if the candelabra is large enough, with arms separated enough so that it is possible for each to light a noticeable distance away from the other they may use it, as it will be recognizable that two people are lighting separately (so it seems to me).

Section 12[edit]

If a pan or plate is filled with oil and wicks are placed around the circumference it can only be used if some utensil will be placed over it that can keep the wicks separated and their flames small, so that they can all be seen distinctly. If one does not cover these flames, and they therefore appear mixed together they are considered like a torch and are not even considered as a single candle.

Even when this plate is covered, it only helps if the utensil is placed before the lighting. If, however, the wicks are lit first and then the utensil is placed over them it will not make them acceptable, since the lighting of such a mixed group of wicks was invalid to begin with, and the most important moment of fulfilling the obligation is at the moment of lighting (Be'er Heitiv, comment 5, in the name of Rabbi A. Halevi). Therefore, one should take care to arrange the lights in a row and not in a circle, since that also gives the appearance of a torch flame. One should also place them in a straight line, without some ahead or behind the line, for that will also prevent an onlooker from seeing each light distinctly.

Section 13[edit]

Our teacher the Rema writes in section 4:

"It is permitted to light with a candelabra called a 'lamp', since each light can be seen distinctly."

Until here is the quote. Even though we have said that one should not light in a circle, as I have written, nevertheless a round candelabra is permitted, since the lights are distant from one another and each can be seen distinctly. Though this be so, authorities who are particular have written not to light with round candelabras, as they do not provide a beautification as far as Hanukkah is concerned (Taz and Magen Avraham at the end of comment 4 in the name of the Rashal). What they mean is that there is no advantage for the purpose of Hanukkah candles in a round arrangement. Our candelabras, which are straight, do provide a useful advantage for Hanukkah candles [in making the lights more distinct]. That is why our custom is to use these, making sure that each light is separated by a finger's-breadth of space (Eliyahu Rabah). There are those who even require two finger-breadths of space (Pre Megadim), though in truth these are not hard and fast rules, and all depends on how the candelabra is constructed. The goal to aim for is that each light should be able to be seen distinctly (Tur).

Section 14[edit]

When one makes candles of wax for use on Hanukkah on should not have two that are stuck together as one, and certainly not more in this manner, as this is like a torch, which for Havdalah is appropriate, but not for Hannukah, Shabbos or the Festivals, since it appears like a torch, and not candles. Therefore, one should be careful to separate candles from each other at least a finger's-breadth, otherwise they will melt together and combine. This is the general concern in all matters regarding the Hanukkah lights, that they remain separate and distinct. (The Maharshal writes that one who is using a round candelabra should place it within a hands-breadth of the house entrance, start lighting from the middle branch that is facing the entrance, and continue around in a rightward direction. We, however, have already explained that this is not considered beautifying the Hanukkah lights, and therefore one should only used straight candelabras.)

Section 15[edit]

Know that I have witnessed one of the Great Authorities contest vehemently the position of the our teacher the Rema and his custom, arguing that those who follow it are pronouncing blessings in vain. This is the statement he objected to:

"There are those that say that each member of the household lights, and that is the accepted custom."

Until here is the quote, which follows the approach of Miamonides, as I have written. The argument against the Rema's statement is that Miamonides' meant something completely different, and that was that the head of the household lights a number candles equal to the amount in his household, and not that each member of the household lights. This argument further asserts that when the Talmud states "a light for each and every one", it means that the head of the household lights a light for each and every one. This, then, is the explanation of Maimonides: On the first night a house of ten people lights ten candles, on the second twenty, and so on. This obligation is only on the head of the household, and if two were to light in one house one would certainly transgress the prohibition of saying blessings in vain. (Galia Mesechta, chapter 5)

Following this approach, the labor that we expended understanding Tosafos in section 7 is not necessary, for when Tosfafos stated that 'if lighting is done according to the number in house the correct day won't be recognized' we did not understand why each can't light in a separate location. Now that we know that it is the obligation of the head of the household to light for each member, and there will only be one person lighting for all, Tosfos' point becomes clear.

Section 16[edit]

In truth, the words of our teacher the Rema can be vindicated. Although it is acceptable to say that 'a candle for each' refers to the head of the household lighting a candle for each member, is there any downside if each wishes to light his own candle? The truth of this assertion can be proven from the Talmud in the seventh chapter of Eruvin, in the discussion of the the creation of communally shared property for the purpose of carrying on Shabbos (Eruvei Chatzeros and Shitufei Ma'vaos), were we learn: "How much much (food) must be placed for creation of the Eiruv? As long as there is a Grogeres (the size of a dried fig) for each person partaking in this Eiruv." This means that one may create this Eiruv on behalf of others if he brought enough food so that each member will be able to have a Grogeres. Now if instead each decides to bring his own Grogeres of food, shouldn't this be just as good? After all, isn't that the classic case of Eiruv creation, where each brings his own portion and adds it to the group's?

Similarly, the beginning of eighth chapter of Eiruvin teaches: "How much food is needed? Enough that each has two meals. Here we also may say that if each brings his own portion should it not be just as valid? In fact, this really is the basic law of Eiruv creation, and it is through the Rabbis that a leniency was established that allows one individual to place all the food for the group.

Based on this, the same might be applied to Hanukkah: The basic law is that each should light for himself, and the Rabbis determined the legal leniency that allows the head of the household to light on behalf of all. This must be the correct way to view this law, as I will explain, with the help of Heaven. (It also appears to me that this is the intent of Rashi in Gemara Shabbos (21.2) in the comment starting with 'And the meticulous...', see there. For if the above is not his intent, what is his explanation adding to the Talmud's words? Attend to the sources and this will be clear.)

Section 17[edit]

Note further that one of the great rabbis has already asked rhetorically: 'Why are the Hanukkah candles different than all other Mitzvos? It is different because generally speaking, each member of the Jewish People is personally obligated in each Mitzvah. Not so by Hanukkah, where only the head of the household is obligated.' (Peni Yehoshua on Shabbos (21.2), who is left puzzled by this.)

However, in truth this disparity does exist. We find on Sukkos that each is obligated to take the four species himself, while on Rosh Hashana one blows the Shofar for all assembled. That's because the command of the four species is in the taking, while the command of the Shofar is in the hearing, which is impossible without someone blowing the Shofar. The Megillah on Purim is no different: One reads so others may fulfill the command of hearing it.

Now we can define Hankka's Mitzvah as one requiring the sight of the candles, which is the act of the miracle being publicized. Therefore, a blessing was even enacted for those that see it, as the Talmud reports. Of course, it is impossible to see the lit candles if no one lights them, therefore the rule was established for the head of household to light, and the household to see. Though this is so, there is still a difference in comparison to Shofar and Megillah. The Mitzva of the Shofar is only to hear it, as its blessing states " hear the sound of the Shofar." Likewise, the Mitzvah of the Megillah is only to hear it. In contrast, the Mitzvah of the Hanukkah lights clearly applies to lighting as well, as can be seen from its blessing " light the Hanukkah lamps". Still in all there is also a Mitzvah to see them, and that is the reason for the second blessing of "...who performed miracles...", as I have written in chapter 676.

Section 18[edit]

Since the Mitzvah can also be fulfilled by sight of these lights, our Rabbis of blessed memory did not deem it necessary for every individual to light for himself. That is why the phrase they use is "the Mitzvah of Hanukkah is a lamp for a man and his household", meaning to say that he lights, and his household sees.

Upon this they state that those who would be meticulous can have each light in the house, meaning that if they are able to achieve this it is certainly a higher and more complete fulfillment if each can personally involve himself, as would be the case with any Mitzvah. However, if the head wishes instead to light a candle for each in his house this would also be considered 'meticulous fulfillment' for all of them.

Finally, there is the class who are exceedingly meticulous, who light an additional candle to mark each day since each day had a miracle in the oil - here is where the original argument between Tosafos and Maimonides takes place, with Tosafos stating that there is no purpose in lighting candles for each member, as the multitude of candles will be confusing, while Maimonides states that one can light candles for each member. In this way the words of our teacher the Rema is vindicated, and 'Moshe is true and his Torah is true'.

Section 19[edit]

Since the primary purpose of this Mitzvah is to publicize the miracle, the Rabbis decreed that the menorah should not be lit within the house. This is their actual statement: "Regarding the Hanukkah lamp - the Mitzvah is to place it by the entrance to the house on the outside. If one dwelling in an upper floor it should be place by the window facing the public thoroughfare. In a time of persecution one may place it on his table within the house, and that is enough." Rashi comments that "the placement 'by the entrance to the house outside' is to publicize the miracle. Note the placement outside their entrances was not facing the public thoroughfare, as the houses in those times opened into communal courtyards." Until here is the quote from Rashi. His point is that if the Rabbis intended the Menorah to be placed facing the public thoroughfare the text would have read 'one places it at the entrance of his courtyard on the outside'. The fact that the text reads 'his house', and houses at that time opened to courtyards, shows that the obligation to have the Menorah seen was primarily in the courtyard.

The Tosafos question this based on a ruling brought in the Talmud further on which states that a house with two entrances should have a Menorah at each [and one of the two was likely into the public thoroughfare]. On this the Smag and Hagaos Mainuniyos (in chapter 4, point 30) have already written in the name of the Ri: "The Talmud does not intend to specify a courtyard, for we don't find that a Menorah is required in a courtyard explicitly, only that a house situated in courtyard still requires it." Until here is the quote. This idea is also understood to be Maimonides position, who writes: "by the entrance of his home on the outside, within a hands-breadth of the entrance way, on the left side as one enters the house." Until here is the quote.

(The question that Tosafos raises in his comment titled 'Mitzvah', that when the Talmud states that a lamp with two mouths can be used for two people this can be understood as being used for two houses, and if it placed in a courtyard, the right mouth can used for the entrance of the house on the right, and the left mouth can be for the entrance of the house on the left. Until here is the quote of Tosafos. On this I wonder: Would this work for two apartments, one behind the other, that both use the same entrance way into the courtyard? This needs further study.)

Section 20[edit]

However, on this issue Tosafos is found to explicitly write: " 'By the entrance way on the outside' - This is speaking not of a courtyard, but of a house along the public thoroughfare. If, however, there is courtyard in front of the house, the Mitzvah is to place the Menorah at the entrance way of the courtyard...etc..." Until here is the quote.

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (section 5) write similarly, and this is their language:

"Regarding the Hanukkah lamp - the Mitzvah is to place it at the entrance to one's home on the outside facing the public thoroughfare. If the house opens directly to the street one should place it at the entrance. If the house opens to a courtyard one should place it at the entrance of the courtyard. If one dwells on an upper floor that has no entrance to the street below, he should place it by a window that faces the public thoroughfare. In a time of persecution, when Jews are prevented from fulfilling their religious obligations on may light within his house on a table and that would be sufficient."

Until here is the quote. On this too I wonder: Since Rashi, Ran, Maimonides, Ri, Smag, and Hagaos Maimunious are the majority position, and rule in opposition to Tosafos, why is their position not even mentioned? This requires further study.

(However, it is true that the Talmud does clearly state in Sofrim (chapter 20, law 5): "Regarding the Hanukkah lamp - the Mitzvah is to place it at the entrance to one's home facing the public thoroughfare." See there.)

Section 21[edit]

A ruling has already been laid down that prohibits using the light from the Hanukkah Menorah for personal use, as will be explained in chapter 673. This being so, if one lights on a table in his home he should light another light at the table that will suffice for his personal use. In this we do not argue that since he has lit on his table he will in any event benefit from the Menorah somewhat even if he lights additional candles in the room, for since he is obligated to light additionally for his own benefit he has shown that he realizes that using the light of the Menorah is prohibited and that is sufficient.

If there is a torch [or other large source of light] in the room he need not light additional candles on the table, for he can attend to his needs with the torchlight. If, however, he is a person of stature, who is not accustomed to using a torch in his home he does need to light additionally. This is the source of the custom to place the service candle (Shamash) that is used to light the Menorah near the Menorah, so that if he has work near the Menorah he can work by the service candle light, and not with the Menorah light itself.

Section 22[edit]

There is a Mitzvah to place the Menorah within ten hands-breadth from the ground, which serves as an indication that this lighting is for the Mitzvah, since people do not normally place their lamps so low (Rosh). Nevertheless one should not place it lower than three hands-breadth from the ground, since at the height it does not serve as a reminder of the Mitzvah at all. Also note that if is placed above ten one still fulfills the Mitzvah, as long as it is less than twenty cubits high. When one places it above twenty cubits it has no validity since peoples' normal gaze does not travel to that height. Even if one were to lower it afterward it is still invalid, as there is a need for the lighting itself to be in a valid location. One would need to first extinguish the lights, lower the Menorah and then relight it.

There are those the assert that nowadays, when lighting is done inside the home, one may place it above twenty cubits. since a building has a roof and walls they argue that one inside will be aware of the walls and ceiling and what is contained therein, just as by a Succah whose walls reach the Sechach. The Tur disputes this notion, for it only with a Succah that the eye is drawn to survey the Sechach roofing. A Menorah, on the other hand, that is sitting below the ceiling level does not share this ability to be noticed. This is the opinion of the majority of the legal authorities, who do not find reason to differentiate.

When one lights in a window one can place the Menorah wherever he desires, whether lower than three hands-breadth from the windowsill or over ten above, since a window always provides recognition (based on Magen Avraham, comment 6).

When one lights at an entrance way that contains a doorstep it appears that these measurements start from the top of the doorstep and not from the ground. Therefore it is the preferred practice to place the Menorah within ten hands-breadth of the doorstep and above three. Obviously, if a tall candelabra is being used these measurements are considered from the flames themselves and not from the top of the candelabra.

Maimonides does not mention this ten hands-breadth ruling at all since the Talmud itself saw fit to reject it. Even so, most legal authorities rule as the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, as they see the Talmud's rejection as simply a position taken during the debate as recorded in the text, though not a statement of settled law. This then is the consensus on the matter, and is our practice.

Section 23[edit]

It is also a Mitzvah to place the Hanukkah lights within a hands-breadth of the entrance. Since the lighting is ideally done outside, at a distance from the entrance these light will not be recognizable as pertaining to the miracle, and none will realize that the householder has placed it there (Rashi 22.1 in the comment 'Mitzvah'). The lights are placed on the left side so that one is surrounded by Mitzvos - the Mezuzah on the right and the Menorah on the left. If the entrance way does not require a Mezuzah the menorah should be placed on the right side since the right side is always considered preferable [in Jewish thought]. If the entrance way is a wide vestibule and the Menorah is placed within this open space the proper position is in the portion of the vestibule that is closer to the house and on the left hand side (and not in the portion closer to the street).

(The Beis Yosef, Bach, and Taz (in comment 6) write on this at some length. The simple meaning, however, is as I have explained. Attend to the sources and this will be clear.)

Section 24[edit]

Although the basic requirement is as stated above, nowadays we do not light outside. Even though we are not under threat of persecution it is still quite impossible owing to the inclement weather in the countries in which we reside during this time of year. The rain, snow, and high winds would not allow Menorahs to stay lit unless they were protected behind glass enclosures, and to this extent the Rabbis did not trouble to the community to exert themselves. Furthermore, the poor weather does not really allow the Menorahs to perform their public function in the first place [publicizing the miracle]. Also, there are still locales where people are prevented from displaying their Menorahs outside. Therefore all light in the home. Since this is so, and it is only the members of the household who are are exposed to the Menorah's message, and not the street, there is no reason to be particular about lighting within a hands-breadth of the entrance. Nevertheless, there is a custom to light within a hands-breadth of the entrance as in Talmudic times and one should not change, though one may also light the Menorah within the entrance vestibule by the left side doorpost.

If there are many members in the household wish wish to fulfill the Mitzvah themselves it is impossible for all to light within a hands-breadth of the entrance, as all the candles will be mixed together and there will not be a clear recognition of which day it is. Consequently, it is far better that each should light in his own place, among the windows and in similar locations. Nevertheless, one should not light in a place where he lights throughout the year, as on a table and the like, for that will not create recognition either. This true even though the recognition is only for the household, [and they all know what the lighting is for]. The physical act of lighting the Menorah must itself provide some measure of recognition [regardless of what the onlookers know]. Because of this, the custom has become to light the Hanukkah lights in a place that is not used for lighting candles all year long.

The best practice of all is for each to use a window overlooking the public thoroughfare - if placed there, the populous will be able to see the Menorah as well, creating greater awareness of the miracle (Magen Avraham, comment 8). This is my custom.

Section 25[edit]

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch write that the Menorah is placed in the southern part of the synagogue as a remembrance of the Menorah in the Temple, which was situated on the southern side. However, [in following this symbolism], there is a dispute in Menachos (98.2) as to whether the Menorah was placed with the branches from east to west or north to south. Although Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi's opinion is east to west, and there is an legal axiom that the law follows Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and not his disputants, nevertheless Maimonides and the Smag (in Laws of the Temple) rule that the placement is north to south.

Still, our custom is to place it east to west, and this is the opinion of the Rema as well. Those that do have the custom to place it north to south (Magen Avraham, comment 9) should remain steadfast in their custom, as they have the support of Maimonides and the Smag.

Section 26[edit]

It should be obvious that one cannot fulfill his obligation to light the Menorah through the synagogue's lighting. Each person is required to light in his own home, even one who said the blessing for the synagogue's Menorah lighting. The reason for this is that there is a specific obligation on the head of every household to light, while the lighting in the synagogue does not relate to this law and only serves the purpose of a general recognition of the miracle.

Now if one should ask: How can a blessing be recited over the candles in the synagogue [which do not serve to fulfill anyone's personal obligation]? The answer is that publicizing the miracle is a worthy enough act in itself to merit a blessing, just as we recite a blessing over the Hallel prayer on the first day of the new month (Rosh Chodesh).

Somewhat problematically, our teacher the Beis Yosef rules in section seven to recite a blessing over the candles in the synagogue even though he does not do so for the blessing over the Hallel on Rosh Chodesh (see the Sharei Teshuvah, comment 10, where the Chacham Tzvi raises this issue). However, the answer to this is also readily apparent. First of all, there are likely to be present guests or bachelors who do not have their own house at hand, and they are in fact fulfilling their obligation through the synagogue's lighting. Secondly, since the basic purpose of lighting is to publicize the miracle, and in the home we are unable to fulfill this goal to the same extent as in Talmudic times, when they lit outside, therefore the synagogue actually more truly serves the basic purpose of lighting as a public display, and a blessing is therefore appropriate.

Nevertheless, one does not fulfill his personal obligation through this, as I have written.

The proper time for the synagogue's lighting is between afternoon and evening prayers (Mincha and Maariv), for that is time when it would be more noticeable. On Friday afternoon the Menorah is lit before the afternoon prayers. This is in line with our custom, which is to even light the Shabbos candles before the afternoon prayers. If the one who lights is the prayer leader (Chazan), and he is rushing [to begin the prayers on time], he may light just one candle, while the sexton or another light the rest. This can also be done in the home, as there is no prohibition against the head of the household starting to light and another finishing. Even so, it is best that the head of the household completes the lighting by himself.

Section 27[edit]

The Talmud states in Shabbos (23.1): "If a courtyard has two entrances, each on a different side, it requires two Menorahs." Rashi explains: "This is referring to a house with two entrances [into different courtyards]." (see there). His interjection is consistent with his position, that lighting is done at the entrance of a house into its courtyard.

The Tosafos, however, read the text according to its literal meaning. This ruling is then explained as to avoid aspersion being cast on the homeowner, as passersby on the side with no Menorah may say "Just as he has not lit on this side, he has not lit on the other either". Of course, if both entrances are on one side [there does not seem to be a reason to light by both], as all can see that he has a Menorah lit at the second entrance [, and upon passing the first there would be no reason to cast aspersion]. It should be obvious that when one does light in two places he only recites the blessings at the first lighting, as the second lighting does not require a blessing since its main purpose is merely to avoid aspersion.

All that was mentioned in this section up to here applied in Talmudic times, when they lit by the entrance way of their home or courtyard. Nowadays, when all light in within the house, and the recognition that the Menorah effects is only for the household members and not the passersby, even if the house or courtyard would have entrances on various sides he need only light in one place, as the entire household knows that all these areas belong to one householder. This is the accepted practice. [SHOULDN'T THE REASON BE "AND THEY WOULD NOT CAST ASPERSION BECAUSE THEY CERTAINLY KNOW HE HAS LIT"? IN TALMUDIC TIMES THE PASSERSBY ALSO NEW ALL THE PROPERTY BELONGED TO ONE PERSON, AND THEY WERE STILL SUSPICIOUS IF THEY DID NOT SEE A LIT MENORAH ON ONE SIDE."]

Section 28[edit]

Finally, know this: Our teacher the Rema writes in section eight in regard to the law that a house with two entrances on one side does not require lighting at both: "This applies when they are both part of one house." Until here is the quote. This implies that [if he owns] two houses one one side he would be required light at both entrances. This is in fact written explicitly in his work Dakei Moshe in the name of the Kol Boi(at the end of this chapter - see there.)

This is difficult to understand, for the Talmud explains quite clearly that the reason for the ruling was to prevent aspersion being cast by the residents of the city who know that both entrances belong to one person. This makes sense when they are on different sides, so that it could be said that just as he has not lit on this side he has not lit by the other, as I have written. If, however, both entrances are on one side why would anyone cast aspersion, and why should it matter if he has one house with two entrances or two houses that each have one, since all know that they belong to one person? And if one were to offer the idea that the situation under discussion was one where people did not know that both houses belong to the same person - how could one assume that this qualification is correct? This needs further study.

(It is possible to offer this explanation: When considering a reason based on aspersion, that people would say "since he has not lit on this side...etc", one could ask why people would be quick to this suspicion. After all, this is not like Peah (leaving the corners of one's field for the poor), where people normally leave Peah at the end of a harvested field [and if the end is completely harvested this might spark people's suspicion. Here people know that one can light at any entrance, and not just the one they happen to be passing.] It must be that the residents are not expert in whether or not there are one or multiple owners of the properties they are passing, but they assume that it is likelier that there is one owner when both entrances are in one house on the same side with a Menorah lit by one of them. If, however, one of these criteria are lacking, people will assume it likelier that there are multiple owners. Attend to the sources and this explanation will be acceptable.)