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Is "pirsumei nissa" incidental (a "byproduct") caused by the lighting of the Chanukah candles or is it a separate mitzvah?

I ask this, because, the mitzvah of lighting candles is only in one's home. One does not gain the mitzvah by lighting the candles in the office or the town square. So, if publicizing the miracle is a byproduct, it seems that this would be accomplished only when lighting at home.

If, however, it is a separate mitzvah, then wouldn't lighting the menorah in the town square or office accomplish this? Or do these lightings accomplish absolutely nothing other than to get people together to celebrate and enjoy a menorah lighting?

NOTE: I think Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (could be wrong about exact source) states that the lighting in the shul is for pirsumei nissah. So, perhaps, there is a mitzvah on its own, or is that a special thing unique to shul lighting?

  • Even if we find Pirsumei Nisa to be a value in other contexts (eg. Torah reading), it doesn't follow that giant Menorahs in parks are valuable. Perhaps Pirsumei Nisa is only valuable when done through the context of a Mitzva. Lighting candles in the park isn't a Mitzva, and might even be Lifnei Iver to people who come and think they are accomplishing a Mitzva. – Double AA Dec 15 '16 at 19:46
  • pirsume niss. is when the pirsum comes from a Jewish house, town square's chanukah says nothing about Jewish families. Idem for office. So maybe that your chakira is based on a premise which is not exact. – kouty Dec 15 '16 at 20:52
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See the Beit Yosef on the Tur Orach Chaim 671 (corresponding to Shulchan Aruch 671:7).

In part:

"כיון שעתה שיד האומות תקפה עלינו ואין אנו יכולים לקיים המצוה כתיקונה ומדליק כל אחד בפתח ביתו מבפנים, ואין כאן פרסומי ניסא כי אם לבני ביתו בלבד, לזה הנהיגו להדליק בבית הכנסת לקיים פרסומי ניסא".‏

We at least see from here that the Beit Yosef holds that there is an added concept of Pirusmei Nissa, in addtion to lighting the candles. He concludes that while there is an idea of Pirsumei Nissa, lighting in the Beit Knesset does not fulfill the obligation of lighting the menora, and it must be done at home as well.


Whether publicizing the miracle by lighting in the synagogue extends to lighting in public places is the subject of much discussion, and some opinions include not to say a blessing when lighting in public, saying a blessing only when there are 10 people there, saying a blessing when there are only 10 people who did not light their own menorah, and more.

You can see a thorough discussion of this in the sefer Netivim B'Sdei HaShlichut by Dayan Raskin from London.

The sefer is available online here, but only the first 40 page are available for free.

I did find a discussion here, but I only scanned it, so I'm not sure if it is more thorough than Dayan Raskin's breakdown.

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