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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 it go out? I eventually figured out a makeshift cover, but should I have just let it go out and then re-lit inside without a berakhah?

ANSWER

It is not allowed. The prohibition of deriving benefit could be based on any of the following: (a) similar to the menorah, (b) it is treating the mitzvah in a disrespectful manner and (c) that it makes it seem like it was lit for this purpose and not for the mitzvah/pirsumei nisa. Warming yourself by the candles fails on all three reasons. See also Shut Shevet HaLevi 11:164.

However, if you are doing it to protect them from going out, and the benefit is only incidental, then you certainly don’t have a problem according to (b). According to (c) it is more debatable.