14 12, 2020

Warming Oneself with Chanukah Candles

December 14th, 2020|Chanukah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Northwest, USA

One is not supposed to benefit from the light, but can one benefit from the heat? We lit our first chanukiah outside to have a little community building and active pirsumei nisa with a few neighbors (masked, distanced, etc.). I did not count on the wind however, so in order to keep it going the requisite 30 minutes, I cupped my hand around the flame to keep it lit. It is actually pretty cold tonight, so I realized that I was actually and benefiting from the flame’s heat, but felt weird just letting […]

12 12, 2020

Lighting Chanukah Candles in Public Without a Shul

December 12th, 2020|Berakhot, Chanukah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Baltimore, MD

We are building a 16 foot menorah in the shul parking lot in front of the shul. I was told it is potentially a problem to say the berakhot. My thought was that since it’s the shul lighting, and berakhot are recited at shul lightings, that the parking lot is considered part of the shul.

ANSWER

Yes – I think that that is a very creative solution to the debate in the poskim about doing it berabim without the shul context. One way of framing this debate […]

12 12, 2020

Assisting Non-Jew in Performing a Mitzvah

December 12th, 2020|Chanukah, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Canada

Are there any halakhic issues with aiding a non-Jew in performing a mitzvah?

Someone who is not halakhically Jewish (father is Jewish), but identifies very much as Jewish, has asked for me to bring her Chanukah candles. Would there be an issues in giving her the candles, over which she will make a berakhah?

ANSWER

According to Rambam, if a non-Jew does a mitzvah s/he gets skhar as an אינו מצווה ועושה. Provided that this is not their own religion but they are doing it in […]

12 12, 2020

Pirsumei Nisah over Zoom

December 12th, 2020|Chanukah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

Can I light with a berakhah in the shul following Havdalah on Motza’ei Shabbat without anyone else present (we have been saying Mincha/Ma’ariv at Shekiah on Shabbat since June)? Does someone on Zoom or phone count for Pirsumei Nisah (if lighting at home late at night with nobody else awake or home)? Does witnessing lighting over Zoom count for anything? Can one say “She’Asah Nisim” when witnessing a menorah on Zoom?

ANSWER

The answer depends on (a) is it considered to satisfy the shul approach if there is […]

17 12, 2017

Less Fire, More Light – Lighting Hanukkah Candles Without Burning Your House Down

December 17th, 2017|Chanukah|

The story of Yosef and his brothers has, on the face of it, nothing to do with Hanukkah. But as it is often read right around Hanukkah time, it is not surprising that attempts have been made to find connections to Hanukkah. Perhaps the most famous one is based on the gemara in Shabbat (22a). Immediately preceding the discussion of the mitzvah of lighting the Hanukkah lights, the gemara references a verse from our parashah: “‘And the pit was empty; there was no water in it’ (Bereishit 37:24) – there was no water in it, but there were snakes and […]

14 12, 2017

There’s No Going Home Again? – Where Do Travelers, Guests, and College Students Light Hanukkah Candles?

December 14th, 2017|Chanukah|

Many of us fondly remember precious moments with our families during Hanukkah – lighting candles, singing songs, eating latkes, and playing dreidel. The family-oriented strand of this holiday is actually deeply woven into its mitzvot and halakhic requirements. The obligation rests not on the individual, as is the case with almost all other mitzvot, but on the household as a unit, ner ish u’veito, a candle for the person and his household. As long as one person lights in the house, even just one candle, everyone fulfills his or her basic obligation.

The concept of house or household is also central […]

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