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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 not a minyan there? (b) if one adopts the pirsum approach, does that work over Zoom? My inclination is to say “no” to (a) – and this is the general approach of the poskim, see Mishnah Berurah 671:47 – and to yes to (b). So that if there are a significant number of people watching over Zoom (please don’t ask me to quantify that), and it also is in shul – to possibly satisfy that approach – then it should be fine.

Regarding the berakhah: if it is not your home, you are not yotzei, it is just based on the Minhag, so no point in delaying lighting at home to do this.


FOLLOW-UP QUESTION

If having a social gathering for the shul over Zoom well after the time of hadelakah, what are your thoughts on lighting candles for pirsumei nisa? Can/should it be done with a berakhah? Is it appropriate to ask one family to delay lighting at home so they can light on the zoom?

ANSWER

See above. Although I have no direct proof for this – my inclination is that witnessing over Zoom constitutes פרסום ברבים, and if one adopts the position that this suffices without בית כנסת, then one can make a berakhah in this case if there is a good number of people participating. The fact that it is being done from the shul is an added snif lehakeil.

Re lighting at home late at night – we make a berakhah here even if no one else is up, so Zoom can only help.

About a berakhah of “She’Asah Nisim” – again, I have no evidence of this, but that seems to me to be taking it a little too far regarding making a berakhah. The basic difference between this case and the lighting in shul, is that the latter is a Minhag based on the value of being mefarseim berabim (and/or the model of mikdash) – so I think that the fact that many people are experiencing it is considered that I – the one lighting – publicized the miracle to them. The berakhah of re’i’ahShe’Asah Nisim – on the other hand, requires that I, the one making the blessing, directly experience the neirot mitzvah. I don’t think a Zoom experience is enough to be mechayeiv me to make a berakhah.