Lighting Chanukah Candles in Shul

Rav Yosef Greenwald


Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 671:7):

·         The minhag is to light Chanukah candles in shul with a beracha just like at home.  


The problem:

·         The Gemara states (Shabbos 21b) that the obligation is “Ner Ish Uveiso” (one candle for each household). How is the shul considered one’s house?

·         How can we recite a beracha on a minhag, to which the word “v’tzivanu” is entirely inapplicable?

o   Even the Mishna Berura’s suggestion (671:44) of a precedent from the custom of reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh with a beracha is difficult, since the Shulchan Aruch and the Gra say not to make a beracha there.

Chidushei HaGriz (on the Rambam):  

·         There are two types of minhagim:

o   New creations not based directly on any previous mitzvah, such as beating aravos on Hoshana Rabba, which the Gemara (Sukka 44a) says is a minhag neviim.

o   Minhagim that are direct extensions of already existing mitzvos, such as eating matza and marror at a second Seder outside of Israel, which the Gemara (Beitza 4b) says is based on minhag (minhag avoseihem byedeihem).


·         On the first type of minhag, no beracha is recited, as we cannot say v’tzivanu on an action that wasn’t actually commanded. But the second type of minhag does warrant a beracha, as the original mitzvah was commanded, and the minhag is an extension of the original mitzvah.

·         Both reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh and lighting Chanukah candles in shul are in the second category, since they are an extension of the original mitzvos of reciting Hallel on the other moadim and lighting Chanukah candles at home, respectively.

·         Based on this logic, a beracha is recited on both.