Lighting the Candles at ‘Home’


The Magen Avraham (263:15) cites a practice that women who were going to use the mikvah on Friday night would light candles in the adjoining shul. This practice is no longer followed (Mishnah Berurah 263:21) because the hadlaka must be in one’s home, a location that meets the halachic definition of בֵּיתוֹ.

The Mishnah Berurah elaborates on this requirement based on the principles gleaned from the Gemara in Eruvin (72b-73a), which discusses the definition of בֵּיתוֹ in reference to the dinim of עֵרוּבֵי חֲצֵרוֹת and תְּחוּם שַׁבָּת. The location labeled as בֵּיתוֹ for the purposes of hadlakat neirot Shabbat would also be relevant for the proper location in which to light neirot Chanukah.

The Gemara discusses the location of one’s מְקוֹם דִּירָה (place of residence), citing a machloket between Rav and Shmuel as to whether it is determined by מְקוֹם פִּיתָּא (the place of eating) or מְקוֹם לִינָה (the place of sleeping). The Gemara explains that, in fact, either the מְקוֹם פִּיתָּא or the מְקוֹם לִינָה could at times be labeled as בֵּיתוֹ. If one of the locations is used beikviut (on a permanent basis), and the other only on a temporary basis, the former would constitute one’s מְקוֹם דִּירָה.

Similarly, if one has two homes, but one home is more comfortable than the other, the more comfortable home would be the one classified as בֵּיתוֹ. Therefore, the בַּיִת of yeshiva students who would sleep in the yeshiva dormitory but would eat their meals in the homes of community members, where they felt relatively uncomfortable, would be the dormitory in which they slept. The machloket between Rav and Shmuel refers to a case in which both homes are equally permanent and equally comfortable. In that case, we follow the opinion of Rav that the מְקוֹם פִּיתָּא is the primary residence and would be the proper location in which to light.

A further criterion used to determine which residence should be labeled as בֵּיתוֹ would be which residence is more private. If one residence is clearly more private than the other, the private room would have the status of בֵּיתוֹ , even if it is the מְקוֹם לִינָה , not the מְקוֹם פִּיתָּא (Mishnah Berurah 263:29). Therefore, yeshiva students who share a dormitory room should light neirot Chanukah in that relatively private room, and not in the public dining room used by all the students (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh De’ah, chelek 3, 14:5).

If one finds himself in a different city than the other members of his family, he must perform hadlakat neirot himself, even if his wife lights candles in his family’s house (Orach Chaim 263:6). His wife’s hadlaka in a different city does not constitute a hadlaka in בֵּיתוֹ , since he is not metzuraf (connected) to that house at this time.

The primary purpose of hadlakat haneirot for Shabbat is to illuminate the room in which the seuda will take place (Rama 263:10). However, if this is not possible, such as in the case of guests in a hotel who are unable to light in the dining room, we hold that the hadlaka is acceptable even if done in a different room than the one in which the seuda will be eaten (Magen Avraham 263:21).

In this case, the hadlaka should be done in the hotel room (using an incandescent bulb). It is not proper to light in a public room set aside for hadlakat neirot, since that room does not have the status of בֵּיתוֹ; it is not the מְקוֹם פִּיתָּא or the מְקוֹם לִינָה. [This practice is very problematic for another reason as well. Since there are many candles being lit in such close proximity to each other, it is unclear if there is any illumination gained from such a hadlaka.]

If one lights in his home, but the candles will not continue to burn until the conclusion of the seuda he is partaking of at a different location, such that no benefit will be gained on Shabbat from the hadlaka, the mitzvah will not have been fulfilled (Shulchan Aruch 263:9). In such a case, one should light in his home using electric bulbs or long-lasting candles, which will remain lit until he returns to his home.

Adapted from Rav Schachter on the Moadim.


Rabbi Hershel Schachter is Rosh Yeshiva and Rosh Kollel at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.





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