Lighting in Shul

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When should one light Chanukah candles in the Shul?

  1. The congregation should light Chanukah Candles between Mincha and Mariv even if it means lighting at sunset (Shekiyah) because the congregation would leave right after Mariv and there wouldn’t be Pirsume Nisa for the candles.[2]
  2. If a Shul has a few minyanim for Maariv, the Menorah should remain lit from before the first minyan until after the last minyan [3]
  3. Ideally one should not extinguish the menorah in shul until it has lit for a half hour since some say a guest can fulfill his obligation and since it is zecher lamikdash. If one is afraid of a fire, or that one may steal the Menorah, one may extinguish the Shul's Menorah even if the 1/2 hour didn't pass yet.[4]

Lighting in Shul in the Morning

  1. There is a practice to light in shul in the morning for Shacharit without a bracha.[5]
  2. Two of the reasons given for this practice are: since we lit in the Shul in order to fulfill Pirsumei Nisa and we only light it for Maariv we don't light for the requisite 30 minutes and so we make up for it during the day. Alternatively, we light in the Shul corresponding to the lighting of the Bet Hamikdash and according to the Rambam[6] they lit the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash at night and the morning.[7]

Fulfilling one's obligation of candle lighting with the lighting in the Shul

  1. One doesn’t fulfill his obligation with the lighting in Shul even if one did the lighting and so one can light at home for his family with all the Brachot.[8] However if he lives by himself and he lit in Shul for the congregation, when he lights at home, according to Sephardim, he should only say the Bracha of LeHadlik Ner (and not SheAssa Nissim and Shehecheyanu). Ashkenazim, however, can say LeHadlik and SheAssa just not Shehecheyanu. [9]
  2. On a Friday afternoon, if one already lit at home before coming to Shul (as will everyone else) he should light in Shul without the Bracha Shehecheyanu. Sephardim say that one shouldn’t say the bracha of She’assa Nisim either but just the bracha of LeHadlik. [10]
  3. One can light in Shul even if he lit at home and can light for another congregation that has an obligation of lighting.[11]
  4. Some say that the lighting of the candles in Shul doesn’t need to be lit for a half hour rather just as long as the congregation is there finishing Mariv. However it’s better to be strict to light it for a half hour.[12]
  5. There is a practice to light candles with a bracha at Chanukah gatherings where there are Divrei Torah. It’s preferable to say Mariv there right afterwards but isn’t necessary.[13]

Where should one light Chanukah candles in the Shul?

  1. The Chanukia in Shul is put to the right of the Aron HaKodesh, which is the south side of the Shul. Some align it in the direction of South-North and some in the East-West direction. If there’s no set Minhag one should align it in the East-West direction.[14]
  2. The person lighting should stand to the south of the Chanukia and light on the first night the right-most candle, closest to the Aron and on the following nights one should light in the direction of left to right.[15] Others have the practice to light standing north of the Chanukia and light on the first night the right-most candle, the one furthest from the Aron.[16]

Does one need a minyan to light Chanukah candles in the Shul?

  1. One shouldn’t light with a bracha until 10 people are present in Shul even if the rest of the group is going to come while the candles are burning. [17]
  2. If there’s a case of need such as on Friday afternoon when one can’t wait until Shabbat to light, and there’s not 10 people one has what to rely on to light with Brachot. If it’s easy to get 10 people for the Bracha it’s preferable to arrange a group of 10.[18]
  3. When lighting on Motzei Shabbat, the minhag is to light after davening before Havdalah. If for Corona concerns they are not saying havdalah in shul they should light before the kaddish titkabel or before kaddish after aleinu.[19]

Who should light the candles in the Shul?

  1. Some have the Minhag that the Shaliach Tzibbur should light and some have the Minhag that the Shamash should light.[20]
  2. Preferably a child shouldn’t light in Shul for Pirsume Nisa of the congregation. [21]

Some other laws of lighting in shul

  1. It is forbidden to derive benefit from the candles lit in shul for the first half hour that it is lit just like it is forbidden for the candles in the home.[22]

Lighting Chanukah candles by the Kotel

  1. By the Kotel, the congregation lights with a bracha between Mincha and Mariv because there’s Pirsume Nisa. [23]

Other Public Gatherings

  1. If a minyan is praying in a home there is no requirement to light before praying arvit.[24]
  2. Many poskim write that if one is going to light at a public gathering such as a chanuka party or a wedding, they should do so without a beracha.[25] Other poskim disagree and allow it for the pirsumei nisa.[26]



  1. Tur, S”A 671:7, Yalkut Yosef 671:1. Sh"t Melamed Lehoil OC 121 points out that this minhag is not mentioned by any of the earlier mainstream Rishonim like the Rif, the rosh, the rambam and the first one to mention it is the Baal Haitur 2:Hilchot Chanukah 114b, but doesn't mention if we should say a beracha. Shibbolei Haleket 185 questions the minhag and says that for sure one shouldn't light with a beracha. However, Sh"t Rivash 111 (quoted in Beit Yosef 671) says that this lighting is to fulfill the obligation publicly since nowadays we light inside and this is a strong minhag that's done for the purpose of pirsumei nisa and therefore requires a beracha. Beiur Halacha 671 “ubibet haknesset” notes that we don’t paskin like the rivash’s reason because we light in shul even in places where we can light outside. Orchot Chayim Hilchot Chanukah Ot 17 says that the minhag developed so that those who didn't know how to light could fulfill their obligation in shuls. Sdei Chemed Asifat Dinim Chanukah 24 notes that this is the primary reason for the lighting. Sefer hamanhig 148 (pg. 531) says that the lighting is zecher lamikdash and a shul is considered a mikdash miat (based on the gemara in megilla 29a's interpretation of the pasuk in Yechezkel 11:16. Beit yosef 671 quotes the Kol Bo 44 as saying the reason is to fulfill the obligation of those who weren't doing it otherwise, like we did for Kiddush in shul on Friday night and that is is a special pirsum hanes. Mor Uketzia 672 expounds on this point. See also Kaf Hachaim 671:70.

    Many Achronim including Sh"t Chacham Tzvi 88 question how S”A could say that one can make a bracha for such a lighting which is only a Minhag [Because of this question the Pri Chadash says to light without a bracha]. Further the Ravyah quoted by the Bet Yosef 671 says that since it’s only a Minhag we (Ashkenazim) only make a bracha because it’s a Minhag and Ashkenazim make a bracha on Minhag, like Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. However, according to Sephardim who don’t make Brachot on a Minhag, how can S”A rule to make a bracha in Shul?

    One answer (brought by Yalkut Yosef 671) is that it’s meant to fulfill the obligation (by saying Birchat HaRoah) of those who don’t have a house and can’t light, based on Orchot Chaim Ot 17. Secondly, Sh”t Rivash 111 says it’s done to fulfill the obligation publicly since nowadays we light inside and that this is a strong Minhag that’s done for the purpose of Pirsume Nisa and requires a bracha. [A third answer that we clearly don’t pasken like is that the Sherit Yosef who says that by Chanukah candles we go Safek Brachot LeHachmir.] Kaf Hachaim 671:70 answers based on the Gra 671:7 that it requires a beracha since it is a special fulfillment of Pirsumei Nisa, like Hallel on the first night of pesach. See Sh"t Yabea Omer 7:57 for other answers to this question.

  2. Rashba (Shabbat 21b) says that if one wants he can light at Shkiah because there’s also Pirsume Nisa then. Orchot Chaim (Chanukah 15), Ritva and Ran on Shabbat 21b. Rashba (Shabbat 21a), Ritva (Shabbat 21a), Ran (Shabbat 21a), Orchot Chaim (Chanukah 15), and Bach 672 say that one can light earlier than the proper time to light (Tzet for Sephardim, Shekiah for some Ashkenazim) because if one delayed lighting in Shul until after Mariv people would leave and there wouldn’t be Pirsume Nisa. Bach 672 says in Shul the Shaliach Tzibbur can light at Shkiah. Sh”t Shev Yacov 22 pg 28a says it’s established to light between Mincha and Mariv (and so says Avudraham 54d) and the reason is that if they light after Mariv the whole congregation would leave. Sh”t Zivchai Tzedek (O”C 2:29,3:112 pg 213) writes that that was the Minhag of Bagdad based on the Yesh Omerim of S”A 672:2. This is also the opinion of Chazon Ovadyah pg 69 and records that such is the Minhag Yerushalayim. Sh”t Shraga HaMeir 7:44 says that if the congregation forgot to light in between Mincha and Mariv they should light before Alenu so there’s a minyan still there. See also Yeraim 102e.
  3. Rav Chaim Kanievsky quoted in Sefer Yimei Hallel ViHodaah page 299 footnote 53. He adds that if the Menorah burned out, or if the last minyan is much later than the first minyan, it should indeed be lit again before the last minyan with the berachot. Rabbi Eli Mansour writes that if the menorah burnt out it should be lit again but without a beracha. see also Sh"t Yabea Omer 7:57 on the minhag of the Musayof Shul.
  4. Sh"t Rivevot Ephraim 3:453,5:432, Sh"t Shevet HaLevi 8:156
  5. Pri Megadim Eshel Avraham 670:2, Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 205), Shearim Mitzuyanim Bihalacha 139:19, Sh"t Melamed Lehoil OC 121, Rav Yoel Schwartz
  6. Rambam Tamidin Umusafin 3, Mitzvah Aseh 25. See further Rashba teshuva 79, 309
  7. Melamed Lhoil OC 121
  8. Mishna Brurah 671:45, Sh”t Rivash 111 says that one doesn’t fulfill his obligation with the lighting in Shul. This is also the opinion of Rama 671:7. Gra (671:7 s.v. viein) explains the obligation of lighting is personal and also related to one’s household and one doesn’t fulfill that aspect of the lighting when lighting in Shul.
  9. Sh”t Zera Emet 1:96 says that once one said the Bracha of Shehecheyanu in Shul one doesn’t repeat it at home unless one is fulfilling the obligation of his family. This is also the opinion of Shaarei Teshuva 671:11 and Mishna Brurah 671:45. Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 1:190 argues on Zera Emet that there should be no difference between Shehecheyanu and SheAssa Nisim (and thus one should be able to repeat all the Brachot even by oneself). Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 200), Halichot Olam 1 pg 66, Taharat Mayim, Sh”t Hitorerut Teshuva 1:103, Leket Yosher 151, and Sh”t Yechave Daat 2:77 say that if one is only lighting at home for himself and he made the Brachot in Shul he should only make the Bracha of LeHadlik Ner. Rav Soloveitchik (Nefesh Harav p. 225) agreed.
  10. Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 13:69 based on the Bach says that even if one said the Bracha of Shehecheyanu at home one can still say it at Shul on Friday afternoon when everyone there already lit with Brachot. However Sh”t Chatom Sofer O”C 55 and Shaarei Knesset HaGedolah argue on the Bach. Sephardim should not even repeat She’assa Nisim as brought down by Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 200 note 37) and Ben Ish Chai Vayeshev 11.
  11. Shaarei Teshuva 671:11 quoting Sh”t Zera Emet 1:96 and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:6) say that one can say Shehecheyanu for another congregation like one can say Birchot HaTorah when getting an Aliyah even though one already said it. However on Friday afternoon when the entire congregation already said Shehecheyanu one shouldn’t repeat it as in previous note.
  12. Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 202)
  13. Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 204 note 43; Kitzur S”A 671:9), Sh”t Mishnat Yacov (Chanukah 260), Az Nidabru 5:37, 6:75, 11:32,34, Sh”T Bet Mordechai 41, Sh”t Yad Natan 2:25, Sh”t Mishnat Sachir 202 say that it’s sufficient that ten people are present for there to be Pirsume Nisa.
  14. Bava Batra 22b says that the menorah was on the south side of the Bet Mikdash. So too the practice is to light the Chanukia in Shul to the south. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 671:7 says that one light to the south of the Shul. There’s a dispute in the Rishonim whether the Menorah in Mikdash was aligned along the south-north axis or the east-west axis. Magen Avraham says that each congregation should keep their Minhag. This is also the opinion of Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg 204). However, Rama 671:7 in name of Trumat HaDeshen 104 rules that preferably one should align it along the east-west axis. This is also the opinion of Mishna Brurah 671:42.
  15. Mishna Brurah 671:43 in name of Sh”t Chatom Sofer 186.
  16. Edut Lyisrael (v. 1 Chanuka 5765) pp. 1-2 records that the minhag of how the menorah was arranged in the shul in Frankfurt changed over time. The Chatom Sofer said that the minhag in Frankfurt was to light from the candle closet to the Aron, even though that teshuva was written in 1828. However, The Divrei Kehilot records the practice in Frankfurt in 1819 as lighting the first night from the candle furthest from the Aron. Edut Lyisrael explains that the Chatom Sofer was writing from memory what the minhag of Frankfurt when he was a child. He left Frankfurt in 1796 and in the next 25 years the minhag could have switched. See also Shevet Sofer 24.
  17. Magen Avraham 671 rules that it’s considered Pirsume Nisa if the Shul lights before there are 10 people as long as they come later. [He is discussing the case of Friday afternoon but Mishna Brurah (Shaar Tzion 671:54) says that it can even apply to the weekday]. Mor Ukesiah 671e argues that there’s no Pirsume Nisa unless all 10 are present (even if there’s a need such as on Friday afternoon). Chaye Adam rules like the Magen Avraham, however, Machzik Bracha 671:7, and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:13) rule like the Mor Ukesiah. Yalkut Yosef (Moadim 203 note 43), Sh”t Yabia Omer 10, comments on Rav Poalim 2:62 writes that women and children also count for the minyan needed for Pirsume Nisa since they are also obligated in the mitzvah of candle lighting. Similarly, the Ran (Megilah 19b), Ritva (Megilah 4a), Nemukei Yosef (Megilah 4a), and Meiri (Megilah 5a) say that women count for a minyan for megilah reading because they are obligated in that mitzvah.
  18. Mishna Brurah 671:47 (and in Beiur Halacha s.v. VeYesh Nohagin), Mekor Chaim, Minchat Elazar, Pri HaSadeh, Sh”t Maharshag, and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:14).
  19. Rav Hershel Schachter (Piskei Corona Kislev 17 5781)
  20. Sh”t Maharam Minz 43 and Taz 671:8 write that the Minhag was that the Shaliach Tzibbur would light and Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:11) says that the Minhag of Morocco was that the Shamash would light.
  21. There’s a dispute in the Rishonim whether a child who is at the age of Chinuch can fulfill the obligation of others. Many Achronim hold a child shouldn’t fulfill the obligation of others concerning Chanukah including Sh”t Kol Gadol 100, Chelko Shel Yedid pg 58b, Sh”t Olat Shmuel 105e, Pri Chadash 675:3, Ben Ish Chai Veyeshev 19, Mishna Brurah 675:13, Torat HaMoadim 2:19, and Yalkut Yosef Moadim pg 203. The Yashiv Moshe pg 86 in name of Rav Elyashiv says that if a child lit one should extinguish it and relight with a bracha. However, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:16) says that by the lighting in Shul there’s room to be lenient since it’s only for the purpose of Pirsume Nisa and it’s only preferable that an adult light. Nonetheless one shouldn’t relight with a bracha because of Safek Brachot.
  22. Mishna Brurah 673:13, Pri Megadim Aishel Avraham 675:2.
  23. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 671:3), Sh"t Az Nidberu 6: pg. 137, Sh"t Rivevot Efrayim 4: pg. 316
  24. Rav Elyashiv quoted Sefer Otzar Hayedios Inyanei Chanukah page 151
  25. Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 15:30 writes that since the poskim had to work hard to justify the minhag of lighting in a shul, we shouldn't extend it to other lighting. Minchat Yitzchak 6:65:3, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (opinion cited in Sh"t Az Nidberu 6:75, though Rav Zilber himself disagrees, see below), Sh"t shevet halevi 4:65, teshuvot vihanhagot 1:398, divrei yatziv 286:3 also say not to light in public places other than the shuls.
  26. Chacham David Yosef in Torat Hamoadim Hilchot Chanukah 7:16 says a beracha shouldn't be recited unless Arvit is recited at that gathering. Yalkut Yosef Chanukah 671:10 however, writes that although in Yalkut Yosef Moadim pg. 204 he wrote that you would need to say arvit to be able to say a beracha on the lighting in that place, his father said that really arvit is not necessary, and one would be able to recite a beracha on the lighting even if there wasn't a minyan for arvit afterwards. He adds that nevertheless one should try to recite arvit. Mishnat Yaakov on the Rambam Chanukah 3:4, Sh"t Az Nidberu 5:37, Sh"t Yad Natan 2:25, Sht Mishneh Sachir 202, Sh"t Beit Mordechai 41 say that a beracha can be recited as well. Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz adds that this seems to be the minhag Chabad as well.