There are people who light in a Fish Tank Menorah among then Reb Eliyashiv and Reb Kanievsky arguably the two most prominent Halachic authorities in the world.

There is an inherent problem in that when you light them without closing the glass it would not stay lit. There is a halacha that ** הדלקה עושה מצוה *Hadlakah Oseh Mitzvah* literally translated the lighting is the Mitzvah. That is the mitzvah is lighting the menorah in a place where the candles would be able to remain lit for the required duration being that with these fish tank Menorahs the doors must be closed to prevent them from going out how can you use them?

  • Can you explain how this is any different from a candle going out before the next candle is lit? Or kids running by the menorah putting out a candle while lighting? I'm not understanding the timing issue here. – avi Dec 14 '11 at 11:30
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    @avi, the principle of "hadlaka oseh mitzvah" means that all the requirements (amount of oil, location, etc.) need to be there at the time of the lighting, and that it's not enough to light and afterwards meet the requirements. For example, if the menora has to burn for 30 min, you can't put in oil or 15 min, light, and then add more, since at the time of lighting it didn't meet the requirements. The fact that an unforeseeable event occurs after you light and blows them out doesn't matter as long as it was unforeseeable, and as far as you could tell the conditions were met when you lit. – Mark Dec 14 '11 at 13:17
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    Then I will assume you are asking about using the box on a windy night and not a normal one? When the rules were set down, people lit outside without glass boxes. – avi Dec 14 '11 at 13:21
  • @avi, people lit outside but we don't know where. maybe there were walls around the area or they had some other setup. In general, at least in all the places I've lived, if you light a candle outside at night, it will usually go out within a few minutes. – Mark Dec 14 '11 at 14:30
  • We know exactly where they lit. Outside their doorway. We also know what their houses looked like, and where their doors were. While the area was protected by walls, it was still an open courtyard with wind on windy nights. You are likely using a week candle, and not an oil lamp. – avi Dec 14 '11 at 14:40

Rabbi Moshe Walter has a piece on this Here

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    Wow, I impressed myself - I remembered almost all of that correctly! (except the sources - thanks) – AviD Dec 14 '11 at 16:43

The difference between the candles being blown out by the wind (and therefore it is shown post hoc that it was not in a position to last the half hour), and lighting without enough oil, is that in the case of wind, it is only known retroactively that it would not last.
If, hypothetically, you set it outside, and it doesn't get blown out - you've still completed the mitzva. Only if it actually does go out, did you not ensure that it wouldn't... (yes, this is a bit circutious logic...)

Thus, though while lighting the candles they would probably be blown out, state of fact is that they didn't, because of the glass cover. That said, if they do go out, in this case you'd probably have to light again, since when you lit them they would probably be blown out.

(Sorry I dont have the sources, but my rav just gave a shiur on this on Shabbat, so I couldn't write them down...
That said, yes there are opinions that these glass boxes shouldnt be used, for precisely the reason you mention. Likewise, there was an opinion that "closing the box" is part of "lighting the candles", though that didnt seem to be accepted.
Bottom line, the logic follows the first reason I mentioned above.)

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    you write "if they do go out, in this case you'd probably have to light again, since when you lit them they would probably be blown out." If you would put the candles outside without a box they would certainly blow out, if not immediately then within a few minutes. Everyone would hold that that lighting was no good. Just b/c it's not apparent until afterwards doesn't make it any less certain. The same is true if you don't put in enough oil. You don't see the fire go out until a few min. later when the oil runs out, but it was certain from the start that they wouldn't last long enough. – Mark Dec 14 '11 at 13:12
  • @Mark right, that's what I meant by "if they do go out, you have to light again", but I was not 100% sure about that. In any case, you would only know that after they get blown out, that retroactively you did not do a proper lighting. That said, if you dont put them in the box, but by some fluke they dont blow out, you're good anyway. – AviD Dec 14 '11 at 16:36

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