Lighting the Menorah on Erev and Motzaei Shabbat

By Rabbi Yosef Churba Dec 15, 2017 12:00 AM

Pictured Above: Hanukiah in the Grazer Synagogue. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

On Friday, erev Shabbat, the Hanukkah candles are lit before the Shabbat candles. One may not kindle the menorah before Plag Haminchah. He must make sure that there is sufficient oil, or use large enough candles, that the Hanukkah lights will burn for a half hour after tz’ait (approximately 5:45 p.m.).

A woman who is living alone and accidentally lights Shabbat candles before the Hanukkah candles must ask someone else to light the Hanukkah candles for her. However, if at the time the Shabbat candles were lit, the woman did not intend to accept the Shabbat upon herself, then she may light Hanukkah candles and do other work until it is Shabbat.

Optimally, one should have prayed Minhah before he lights the Hanukkah candles. The reason for this is because the Hanukkah menorah represents the menorah of the Beit Hamikdash and it was kindles after the afternoon offering of the Korban Tamid was brought. In our time, the Minhah service is our substitute for this daily offering. If there is no early Minhah available, it is best to wait until there is a minyan that he can join. In such a case, he should light the Hanukkah candles before he prays Minhah.

Cautions should be taken not to place the Hanukkah Menorah in a place where there is the likelihood that the candles may be extinguished. On Shabbat, he is not permitted to relight them as he may do during the week.

If, for some reason, the Hanukkah Lights were extinguished shortly after he accepted Shabbat, then he may ask someone who has not yet accepted the Shabbat to relight them. In the event that no one is available, the Hanukkah candles remain extinguished and he has still fulfilled the mitzvah. The lighting of the Hanukkah lights is the manner in which this mitzvah is fulfilled and he already did that.

In the synagogue on Saturday night, the Hanukkah candles are kindled before Havdalah is recited. In one’s home, it is just the opposite - Havdalah first, then Hanukkah candles.

One should not delay in lighting the Hanukkah candles when Shabbat is over. If it is his custom to follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and wait until 72 minutes after sunset, then he retains his custom and does not end Shabbat earlier.

Rabbi Yosef Churba is the founder of Sephardic.Org as well as Rosh Yeshiva of Magen Avraham Yeshiva in Brooklyn NY. It is with his guidance that this amazing website remains on the correct path in order to inspire Jewish people around the world.