Question:

When lighting at campus Hillel, JCC, or other establishments where Jewish people gather regularly and there will be way to publicize the miracle, should the blessing be recited over lighting?

Answer:

The essential place for lighting the Chanukah menorah and making the bracha and fulfilling the mitzvah of chazal is specifically when one lights the candles in his home.  A person that is traveling and doesn’t have a home does not have to light Chanukah candles. Aside from this there is a minhag to light candles in a shul that they are davening there. This is not in order to fulfill the mitzvah, but for “pirsumei nisa”. Although it isn’t simple, the minhag is to make a bracha there, however the poskim say that we only make a bracha in a shul that is a place that is meant to be  a permanent place of davening. If it isn’t in such a place, even though there would be a publicizing of the miracle, however this is not included in the lighting that we are allowed to make a bracha. There are many ways to publicize the miracle, however we can only make a bracha when it fits in to the criteria that chazal gave us. The poskim say that if someone wants to light a Chanukah menorah at a Chanukah party, or in other gathering places etc. they should not make a bracha on those candles.

Sources:

Rivash 111, Chacham Tzvi 88, Halichos Shlomo Tishrei 17-4, Divrei Yatziv 2-286 (3),  Minchas Yitzchok 6-65(3), Tzitz Eliezer 15-30, Shevet Halevi 4-65.

Tags: Chanuka chanukah candles

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