When someone is attending a public Menorah lighting, what should one do vis a vis the Mitzvah and the Berachoth?

Should one say "She'Asah Nisim"? If it's the first night, should one say "SheHeḤiyanu"? If one is supposed to recite the above Berachoth when attending a public lighting, should one then recite them again when lighting at home?

  • It's an interesting question. There is some dispute mentioned in Talmud Shabbat (just saw the page, the other day - have to find it, later) as to whether one makes a blessing upon seeing it lit or lighting it himself (or via another who "has him in mind".) – DanF Dec 7 '15 at 17:43
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    What's a "public Menorah lighting"? – Double AA Dec 7 '15 at 18:47
  • You're not asking this question, right? – msh210 Dec 7 '15 at 18:53
  • @msh210, I don't think so, although they are similar. – Seth J Dec 7 '15 at 20:30
  • @DoubleAA: nationalmenorah.org menorahinthed.com chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/3156618/jewish/… (or smaller on the local scale). – Seth J Dec 7 '15 at 20:35

If you attend a public menorah lighting such as what Chaba"d does by lighting the huge "Central Park" menorah, Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayyim 676:3 says:

מִי שֶׁלֹּא הִדְלִיק וְאֵינוֹ עָתִיד לְהַדְלִיק בְּאוֹתוֹ הַלַּיְלָה, וְגַם אֵין מַדְלִיקִין עָלָיו בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ, כְּשֶׁרוֹאֶה נֵר חֲנֻכָּה מְבָרֵךְ: שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִים, וּבְלֵיל רִאשׁוֹן מְבָרֵךְ גַּם: שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ, וְאִם אַחַר כָּךְ בְּלֵיל ב' אוֹ ג' בָּא לְהַדְלִיק אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר וּמְבָרֵךְ: שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ.

Someone who has not yet lit, doesn't plan to light and has no one in his household who will light for him that night (i.e., all 3 conditions must be met) will recite the 1st 2 blessing on all nights and on the 1st night, he adds the 3rd blessing when he SEES the menorah being lit...

I'm inferring from this, that if any of these conditions will be met, he will not recite any blessings when seeing the public lighting, but will say them at home or will have fulfilled the obligation if someone else has lit for him. (I.e., he doesn't need to be home at the time someone else in his home lights.)

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  • This ruling doesn't seem to apply to the Central Park menorah (and others like it), bc it's talking about seeing a Halachically valid Menorah, not a publicity stunt. – Double AA Dec 7 '15 at 21:00
  • @DoubleAA I have attended the Central as well as Prospect Park lightings several times. Each time I was at either place, brachot were made. I'm assuming, therefore, that even at that height, it is a valid menorah. – DanF Dec 7 '15 at 21:07
  • "Height" ??? I have no idea how tall they are. They aren't in anyone's home though so there's not much to talk about. You have to light in your home. If you have no home, you say blessings on seeing candles, not light in the street. If you could light in the street wherever, then why establish blessings on seeing candles for those who have no home? Perhaps the blessing is said by a Jew who doesn't know any better (eg. an honorary Senator or something?) Perhaps God's name was pronounced Abomay and you didn't notice? – Double AA Dec 7 '15 at 21:09
  • @DoubleAA I think we need a Chaba"d MY'er to pitch in on what really happens, here. I don't know if the rav relights in his own home. But, my understanding of O.C. quote as in my answer, is that even if someone has a home, if he meets all 3 conditions he would say it on seeing this menorah lit, assuming that this is a valid menorah lighting. Based on what I have seen on attending these events, it seems that Chaba"d is doing a valid lighting and it's not merely for publicity. I think that they are trying to motzi the many attendants with the mitzvah as these people may not light themselves. – DanF Dec 7 '15 at 21:15
  • No. But what they do end up accomplishing is seriously confusing many good Jews like you. יצא שכרם בהפסדם. – Double AA Dec 7 '15 at 21:23

many rule that if a minyan (quorum of ten men for prayer) for afternoon or evening services is held at the public menorah ceremony, then the place would be considered like a synagogue, and one would be able to light with the blessings.

Torat ha-Moadim 7:15; Yalkut Yosef Moadim, p. 204; Chikrei Minhagim, vol. 1, p. 205 (original edition).

Others, however, point out that the primary reason for lighting the menorah in the synagogue is in order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah. Accordingly, the same reasoning should apply to an even greater extent to lighting the menorah in a public place like the mall or city square. And the same argument can be made about many of the other reasons listed above. It is for this reason that blessings are recited at the vast majority of public menorah lightings, even outside of the synagogue.

See Responsa Az Nidabru 5:37, 6:75 and 11:32; Yalkut Yosef, Chanukah 671:10, quoting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef; Yad Natan 2:25; Mishneh Sachir 202; Beit Mordechai 41; Rabbi Yosef Heller, Haorot u-Beurim 721; Netivot bi-Sedeh ha-Shlichut 1:13.

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  • How does this answer the question as asked? – DonielF Dec 24 '19 at 0:48

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