If one didn't light Chanuka candles until the second night, how many candles should he light?

According to the reason that we add a candle a night is "Maalin Bakodesh" (we always add in holiness), there is no reason to light more than one. If the reason is "Keneged [Yamim] Hayotzeim" (the amount of days that passed) one should nonetheless light two.

Do any of the Poskim discuss the Halacha in such a situation?

  • 2
    In fact, the question could be broadened to any case where you missed a night. (Say you didn't light on the third night: come the fourth night, do you need to light three or four?)
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 16:02
  • כמ״ש הר״ש הלוי בתשו׳ ח׳ א״ח סי׳ כ״ד beta.hebrewbooks.org/tursa.aspx?a=oc_x3109
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 21:16

4 Answers 4


The Darkei Moshe (Rav Moshe Isserles's commentary to the Tur) discusses this issue in OC 672 sk 3. He quotes Rabbi Menachem of Reisberg (Merseburg?) as ruling that one who missed the first night lights only one candle, as it is his first night. However, Rema eventually rules against this and in accordance with Maharil (Responsum 28) that one who missed a night should light the regular way.

  • It's interesting that you found the source for the Maharil in his responsa even though the author of the sources of the Rama printed with the Shulchan Aruch writes "מצא כתוב בשם מהרי"ל" as if it's not in any of his writings.
    – b a
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 21:23
  • @ba Peculiar indeed! I think that responsum is the one the Darkei Moshe refers to, but perhaps I'm mistaken.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 23:53

Although I cannot claim to have done a lot of research on this sugya, I am pretty sure that maalin bakodesh is not the exclusive reason for going from 1 through 8. Maalin bakodesh says that once you place something at a certain level of holiness, you cannot downgrade it. Lighting 1 candle every night would suffice to fulfill this requirement.

It seems that, even according to the 2nd opinion, all agree that there is a mitzva to show that there is a progression of 8 nights. Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel are arguing about how to show that progression. Bais Shamai held that it was more accurate to do a downward progression (perhaps showing how the oil burned- see Maharsha). Bais Hillel said that's a great svara, but unfortunately we have a rule of maalin bakodesh v'ain moridin. Bais Shamai argued back that we have precedent from parei hechag.

The upshot is that all hold of the daily progression, the only question is- which way.


I believe the active principle would be "don't separate yourself from the community." If all the other Jews in the world are lighting 2 then you don't go and light one.

  • 1
    He would not be seperating from the community. The question is assuming that the 2nd opinion on B"H, maalin bakodesh, is not related to a specific number, it merely requires a progression in lights, which is what he is doing. The exact # is irrelevant to the mitzva.
    – YDK
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 3:03
  • @YDK, but, especially when we live among others, there's something to be said for not causing confusion -- "look, those Jews can't even agree on which night it is" etc. Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 16:05
  • @MonicaCellio, the question is based on the premise that in version 2 of the BS/BH arguement the lighting is not based on the day (which I questioned in my answer). In Shmuel's version 2 world, the mitzva is to light the basic mitzva on the first night (ner ish uveiso) and progressively light more than you did the night before. The # of candles are not representative of the day. (Additionally, if confusion caused by variations in custom is an issue, we've got bigger problems:) )
    – YDK
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 20:44
  • @YDK, I was assuming that publicizing the miracle is a factor (and to do that we need to be clear to observers), but perhaps that's not related to the question. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 14:06

Even according to Maalin BaKodesh you would light 2 on the Second night if you forgot the first night, as the question is whether you should start with 8 and reduce it by 1 a night or should you start with 1 and increase it over the 8 days. You will still be Maalin BaKodesh by lighting 3 on night 3 and lighting 4 on night 4 - so Maalin BaKodesh will still exist.

  • 2
    Sure you can, but I think that Shmuel Brill's question is do you have to.
    – YDK
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 2:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .