Someone who is in jail and is able to light Channukah candles, can/should he make a bracha?

I don't know if being in Jail is considered to be like having a home that someone would have a chiyuv to light candles in. This is a dira bal korcha (a forced living situation.) He definitely isn't paying rent in order to be there either. Is this like a "guest". Does the fact that he eats most of his meals there mean something as well?

Are there any poskim that discussed this issue?

Update: I later saw in the Beis Yosef in Siman 677 towards the end where he brings from the Mahari Abohav that someone who is in a boat or in the house of non-Jews may light with a bracha. Perhaps one may bring a proof from here to our case? Is the house of a non-Jew better/worse (in terms of being able to light with a bracha as he points out) than a jail?

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  • There would also be the question of his ownership of the candles, would there not?
    – Seth J
    Dec 10, 2012 at 19:04
  • @SethJ Why? What's the question ("lechem"?!) Let's say they got them from an outside source and were given to them.
    – Yehoshua
    Dec 10, 2012 at 19:06
  • @DoubleAA Very nice story...Although I don't understand why before this Yid came from South Africa he the Rebbe didn't push someone to organize Chanukah Candles in NY for the Prisoners? Without any success!? Surprising for Chabad and how persistent the Rebbe was. ZY"A...
    – Yehoshua
    Dec 10, 2012 at 19:12
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    Isn't a guest also obligated to light candle? What exactly is your hava amina that the inmate would be exempt.
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


Per Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul in an essay in Ohr Olam one in prison should light and make a Bracha on Chanuka candles.

See the conclusion of the essay here.

See also this, from a talk by R' Menachem Mendel Schneerson in 1978:

It is of particular importance to reach those Jews who are confined to hospitals and prisons, and to help them to light Chanukah candles.

  • Great source. How did you get to this?
    – Yehoshua
    Dec 12, 2012 at 21:56
  • Your link to the Sichos in English is now dead, בד"א. Are they still online somewhere?
    – MTL
    Dec 9, 2014 at 6:03
  • @Isaac Nice! How'd you find that link?
    – MTL
    Dec 10, 2014 at 4:15
  • @Shokhet I googled the quotation.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 10, 2014 at 4:16
  • @IsaacMoses Ah. Good move!
    – MTL
    Dec 10, 2014 at 4:19

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