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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chanukah Candles on Friday

Even though we usually light Chanukah candles once it’s dark, obviously that is impossible on Friday, we therefore have to light before dark. We will discuss some of the associated Halachos.

The Shulchan Aruch rules (679) that one should first light Chanukah candles and then Shabbos candles. The Mishna Berura explains that this is because of another issue – there is a question if there is an automatic acceptance of Shabbos when one lights Shabbos candles. We generally accept that for men there is no automatic acceptance and for women there is. However there is an opinion that for men lighting Shabbos candles there would also be an automatic acceptance and therefore the Shulchan Aruch rules that one should first light Chanukah candles to suffice all opinions.

This would seem to only present as an issue when the same person is lighting the Shabbos candles and the Chanukah candles. However it could be that even if the woman is lighting Shabbos candles then the man can’t help her fulfill her Chanukah obligation as an agent.

If one forgot and the woman of the house lit Shabbos candles then the man may still light the Menorah. If the woman was intending to light Chanukah candles she may not, because she has accepted Shabbos, and she should ask someone else to light for her. The lighter should make the first Beracha and she makes the second (and when applicable the third).

However if a man lit the Shabbos candles he would be thrust into the above dispute. The Mishna Berura concludes that ex post facto he may light the Menorah even if he already lit Shabbos candles.
One has to make sure to have enough oil in at least one (and preferably all) of the candles to burn until a half hour after nightfall.

One may not light the menorah before Plag Hamincha, which is one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset.

One should ideally daven Mincha before lighting the Menorah. Obviously it is preferred to daven with a minyan earlier in the day; however the question often arises; is it better to light Menorah and then go to Shul to daven with a minyan, or is it better to daven without a minyan at home and then light the Menorah?

This would seemingly depend on a much greater question. Why is it that we light the Menorah when we do, after Plag Hamincha?

According to many we are commemorating the lighting of the Menorah every evening in the Bais Hamikdash, which took place after the daily afternoon offering was brought, in which case our lighting of the Menorah would have to be after Mincha, which corresponds to that offering. This reasoning is offered by the Shaarei Teshuva in the name of the Birkei Yosef.

However others understand that when we allow one to light in a time of need from Plag Hamincha on, it is because we are ruling according to the opinion that Plag Hamincha is already night time, and therefore if I go and daven Mincha after lighting the Menorah I would be engaged in seemingly contradictory behavior. Some contemporary poskim (see Mishna Berura Hamevuar) argue that according to this line of reasoning the Halacha would prefer a ‘contradictory’ davening with a minyan than a properly ordered one without. However, in Shaar Hatzion the Mishna Berura quotes this line of reasoning as the primary one when explaining why to daven Mincha first.

[This discussion is relevant to bringing in Shabbos early, which will hopefully be the focus of a future article].

In a nutshell, it would seem to be appropriate to daven Mincha, if need be without a minyan, before lighting the Menorah. This is indeed the opinion of my Rebbe and other contemporary Poskim.

However it is noteworthy that the Shelah in his commentary on the Siddur and Rav Ovadia Yosef explicitly write that the preference to daven Mincha first is only when one is able to do so with a Minyan.

There is one major exception to this rule – if by davening Mincha one will delay lighting the Menorah until very close to or after sunset then one should most definitely light the Menorah first.

Posted on 12/12 at 06:34 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org