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If a person lived alone in an apartment, would it be okay to make the brakhot when lighting Hanukkah candles, even though there are no other members of the household to see the lights, and therefore no implementation of pirsumei nisa / publicizing the miracle?

  • paquda I don't know why the door needs to be propped open, but the traditional place for chanukka lights is indeed within a Tefach of the doorway to the public domain on the opposite side of the mezuzah (Talmud Shabbat 22a, Rambam, Shulchan Arukh, etc.). cc @ezra who for some reason suggested a window instead of the traditional location – Double AA Dec 12 '17 at 19:51
  • one resource (costs) shivtiyk.com/store/index.php?route=product/… – rosends Dec 12 '17 at 19:55
  • I used to spend time in a country house on an underused road, set very far back from the road (so no one would be walking into private property to see the house). The question would have been relevant then so I would love an answer. – rosends Dec 12 '17 at 20:23
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    If your looking for ideas, I used to hang this sign over my candles outside my apartment door along with a bowl of chocolate coins i.stack.imgur.com/tKcHu.jpg – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 17:37
  • @paquda Another option (commonly practiced by many in Israel) would be to light at the entrance to the apartment building. See e.g. here quotinq R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo 14:4. The idea is that the stairwell and corridors have a din of a chatzer, and the Sulchan Aruch writes that one lights at the entrance to the chatzer where it is visible to those in the street. – Joel K Dec 14 '17 at 9:09
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The Shulchan Aruch in O.C. 677:3 writes:

יש אומרים שאע"ג שמדליקין עליו בתוך ביתו, אם הוא במקום שאין בו ישראל מדליק בברכות

Some say that even though they are lighting for a person at his home, if he is in a place where there are no Jews he should light with the blessings.

The Rema adds

וכן נוהגין

And this is our practice.

This is a person who is alone without any other Jews, family or non-family, and yet they light with the blessings. This seemingly demonstrates that the mitzvah can be performed with the blessings even without the pirsumei nisa to others.

(Although the Mishneh Berura #14 points out that this is a contradiction to what the Shulchan Aruch writes in 676:3, that is only regarding that which one makes a blessing even though his wife/family is lighting for him.)

However, the rationale for such a person lighting is, as the Rema writes at the beginning of his gloss,

כי חיב לראות הנרות

because he is obligated to see [Chanukah] candles.

That being the case, in the case that a person happens to not have anyone else who will witness his light, but he could walk out on the street and see the lights of other Jews, they would have no reason to specifically light. Nonetheless, the Rema continues that

אפילו אם הוא אצל יהודים ורואה הנרות, אם רוצה להחמיר על עצמו ולהדליק בפני עצמו, מדליק ומברך עליהם, וכן נוהגין

Even if one is in a place of Jews and wishes to be stringent upon himself and light for himself, he may do so with blessings, and that is our practice.

Putting these two points together seems to yield that the individual in the apartment by himself could light with blessings, regardless of if anyone else will see it.

It seems unreasonable that the Rema is basing his position on non-Jews seeing the lighting and fulfilling pirsumei nisa through them, firstly because I assume that pirsumei nisa is specifically to Jews, and more importantly, it does not seem reasonable that the Rema is depending on non-Jews wandering in to his private quarters, as he is lighting indoors at his table, not by the window (Rema in the previous sif), and the whole reason for the move to light inside was due to the danger of visible performance of the mitzvah.

  • There's still the issue of why Poskim require waking up family members to see you light if you can light for yourself. Perhaps you can say the Rama could be relying on non Jews to define the time as pre-Tikhke Regel (especially if you think the Tarmudai weren't Jewish) even if you light inside bedieved because of danger. If you live on an abandoned country road though you still might not be able to light for just yourself since Tikhle Regel sets in effectively immediately. – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 5:25
  • @DoubleAA A) according to what I have suggested, I don't see why non-Jews who aren't able to see my private lighting should define tichleh regel any more than anyone else. B) I have never seen any posek write that traffic patterns need to be re-assessed to see if they are shorter (or longer) than half an hour - was it just coincidence that throughout all of medieval life this number remained constant, or is it perhaps codified by the Talmud and no longer dependent on current traffic patterns? – Y     e     z Dec 13 '17 at 5:33
  • A) lighting inside is bedieved. The idea is you are doing what could be done outside and hiding it. That makes the potential for outside very relevant. B) not a coincidence. It gets dark and people go to sleep, so of course the time hung at approximately a half hour to an hour ( כחצי שעה או יתר is the Rambams language iirc) till quite recently. It was never exactly a half hour. No rishonim say that, and half of them don't even mention the half hour estimation of the Rif. | So why do you need to wake up the family members if you can light for just your own Pirsum? – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 5:42
  • @DoubleAA If you are willing to entertain "what would be outside" as validating, then for sure our apartment dweller is ok, as if it would be outside everyone passing by would see it. Regarding your final point, because it is after the zman. (I.e. I am suggesting that during the zman one can light with or without actual pirsumei nisa, but after the zman one can only justify lighting with actualy pirsumei nisa.) – Y     e     z Dec 13 '17 at 5:46
  • What would be outside is only for the Cheftza: what makes a Chanukah light (that's the avnei nezers take iirc). You still potentially need to provide it with at least minimal opportunity to achieve it's goal. And there's the issue of the person who lives on an abandoned country road where even outside there is no one. Why do you think the Zman is relevant to whether or not you need Pirsumei Nissa? Is this some sort of later Sfek Sfeika or a fundamental rule? – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 5:50
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R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 4:105:7) rules pretty definitively that one should light with a bracha, even if there are no other people present to allow pirsumei nisa.

He is not particularly concerned with the Magen Avraham's chumra of waking up other members of the household in order to light late at night.

  • But he is accepting that according to the Magen Avraham (who the Mishna Berura and Arukh haShulchan rule like) you couldn't light by yourself? If so you should really be mentioning in this post that many major authorities do not accept this position. – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 14:55
  • +1 I'm not sure his analogy with Purim is so convincing, since they are different modes of Pirsumei Nissa judaism.stackexchange.com/q/33371/759 – Double AA Dec 13 '17 at 15:06
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See Beur Halacha on O.C. 571:1. He cites the Gemarah (I don't recall where in the Gemarah this is mentioned) that says the mitzvah is to have one candle each night, and that suffices for himself and his household. If you live alone, you are the household. So, the fact that there are no others around is irrelevant. It seems that you can light and make the bracha as you are fulfilling the mitzvah.

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    One candle suffices for himself and his household means one candle is sufficient and there is no need for two candles. It doesn't indicate anything about who needs to be able to see it – Double AA Dec 12 '17 at 21:13
  • See a few pages later on Mishnah Brurah 627: 11 -- כל הלילה - עד עמוד השחר ובברכה והיינו דוקא אם בני הבית נעורים אבל אם ישנים אין לברך עליהם אלא ידליק בלא ברכה דכמו דלדידהו לא היה מברך אלא בזמן פרסום הנס ה"נ לדידן. ואם בא לביתו קודם עה"ש ומצא ב"ב ישנים מן הנכון שיקיצם כדי שיוכל להדליק בברכה – paquda Dec 12 '17 at 21:13
  • @paquda that's talking about after the market has quieted down. You were asking before that no? – Double AA Dec 12 '17 at 21:34
  • @DoubleAA, I assumed that in an apartment, which typically cannot have windows or doors opening out to pedestrian thoroughfares, the situation is equivalent to the time after pedestrians have ceased from the market. – paquda Dec 12 '17 at 21:47
  • @paquda It's factually incorrect that an apartment typically does not have doors (or even usually windows) that open to a public space. But yes, I agree that such a hypothetical location would seemingly be equivalent to a time after the market has quieted down. In which case you already have your source and your answer. What are you still looking for? – Double AA Dec 12 '17 at 21:48

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