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One is generally not allowed to benefit from the light of the Channukah candles (see discussion here) but does that include using the light to perform a mitzvah?

Note: I'm pretty sure that this is discussed by the Ba'al Hameor and/or Ramban in Melchemes H', if anyone wants to look it up

  • Can you please elaborate an example of a Mitzva one would need the candles for. – Gershon Gold Dec 22 '14 at 19:05
  • @GershonGold learning Torah, perhaps? – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:06
  • @GershonGold though there are countless others... I would imagine it's hard to separate terumos umaasros in the dark, etc – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:07
  • Well it says in the article כלומר כל שימוש אסור ואפ' שימוש של מצווה – Gershon Gold Dec 22 '14 at 19:07
  • @GershonGold that's merely the author's interpretation, I don't think that the ran says so explicitly, and if he does, it isn't quoted in the article as such. I'm looking for poskim who say so outright – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:09
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This is a machlokes Rishonim. It is brought in the Ran to the Rif's Hilchos Chanuka, first paragraph.

The Ran first proves and then defends the opinion that it cannot be used even for mitzvah purposes, and then cites the Baal HaMe'or that you could use it for mitzvah purposes. The Ran's primary proof is that they allowed the use of inferior oils for Shabbos lighting because you won't be using them for personal use, and if mitzvah use was allowed, that should create the same issue of coming to tilt the candle to improve the light. He then addresses what could be support for the other opinion, that the Gemara specifically points out a non-mitzvah use, counting or checking money, when disallowing use, and the Ran says that is to point out even such a minimal use is still not allowed.

The Mechaber in O.C. 673:1 cites the opinion that it is not allowed, and then cites the opinion that it is allowed as a "some who say"

ואפילו לבדוק מעות או למנותן לאורה אסור ואפילו תשמיש של קדושה כגון ללמוד לאורה אסור ויש מי שמתיר בתשמיש של קדושה

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The Emes L'yaakov (by R' Yaakov Kamenetsky) on Parshas Miketz is clear that they may not be used even for Mitzva use. He compares Chanuka lights - forbidden to benefit from - to Shabbos candles - we benefit from as they bring Shalom into the house.

הנה לכשנתבונן בב' מיני נרות שנצטוינו להדליק נר שבת ויו"ט ונר חנוכה, הא' ניתן להשתמש בו ואדרבה בלא תשמיש א"צ להדליק, והב' אסור בתשמיש ואפי' לעסוק כנגדו בד"ת או בדבר מצוה נאסר (Emes L'Yaakov to Beraishis 41:16)

  • I hope you don't mind that I put in the quote. He was just assuming that this is true though, not issuing a psak - I'm sure R. Yaakov would say that the true source is to be found elsewhere – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:15
  • אין הכי נמי - I'm not claiming this to be the original source, though an example of a prominent Posek paskening this way. – Zvi Dec 22 '14 at 19:16
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    I just hope you'll forgive me for not accepting (though hopefully I made up for that by editing in the exact quote which will make others more likely to upvote :-) – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:18
  • it just so happens that I was reading this passage in Emes L'Yaakov, and wanted to know his source – Matt Dec 22 '14 at 19:19
  • I'll keep looking ;) – Zvi Dec 22 '14 at 19:21

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