Although one who cannot afford Shabbos candles is not required to sell his clothing to fund them, one who cannot afford Chanuka candles is required to sell his clothing. (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 671.)

What would be the halacha on Friday of Chanuka, for one who can afford neither Shabbos nor Chanuka candles?

Should he:

  1. Sell his clothing and use the money for Chanuka candles? [Rationale: Chanuka requires selling clothing to fund candle-lighting, whereas Shabbos doesn't.]
  2. Sell his clothing and use the money for Shabbos candles? [Rationale: Shabbos candles precede Chanuka candles (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 678) because they bring shalom bayis; once he obtains the money, he would be obligated to use it for Shabbos, which takes priority.]
  3. He doesn't need to sell his clothing. [Rationale: The obligation to sell the clothing would be to fund Chanuka candles. Seeing as the money either way will not reach Chanuka candles, because Shabbos would take priority, he is not obligated to sell.]

If possible, please cite sources.


The question is based on the premise that one need not sell his clothing for Shabbos candles. This is in accordance with the Yeshuos Malko. As pointed out by WFB in his answer, the Biur Halacha & Pri Megadim (in accordance with the Or Sameach) disagree and hold that one must sell his clothing for Shabbos too.

  • 1
    [Apparently][1], R' Moshe Feinstein zt"l and R' Elyashiv zt"l paskened that one would have to sell ones clothing in this situation. R' Avrohom Yehoshua Solovetzchik shlit"a disagreed. (Disclaimer: I haven't found a legitimate source; this is what a rudimentary Google search uncovered) [1]: forum.otzar.org/viewtopic.php?t=2981#p21953
    – chortkov2
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:01
  • Similar question involving three competing priorities: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/85865/…
    – Joel K
    Nov 27, 2018 at 9:24
  • The question is posed by the Ponovezher Rav (Divrei Harav V2, p111)
    – chortkov2
    Dec 26, 2019 at 9:14

2 Answers 2


The Rambam (Hil. Shabbos 5:1) rules that if one does not have money to purchase light for Shabbos, he should collect money to purchase oil to light: אפילו אין לו מה יאכל שואל על הפתחים ולוקח שמן ומדליק את הנר שזה בכלל עונג שבת.

The Ohr Sameach explains that the Rambam's source is from the fact that Shabbos candles have precedence over Chanukah, and for Chanukah one must sell his clothing. Thus for Shabbos, one must certainly do so. Thus, if one could only obtain enough money for one, one would have to obtain money for Shabbos candles. This is also the view of the Beiur Halachah: על הפתחים: ועיין בסימן תרע"א דמוכר כסותו וה"ה הכא [פמ"ג].

Others, however, infer from the wording of the Rambam that selling one's clothing is not necessary for Shabbos light. This is the position of the Yeshuos Malko. The Ponovezher Rav (Hil. Shabbos here) maintained that one is not obligated to sell his clothing for Shabbos light, because this too will decrease his shalom bayis; therefore, on Erev Shabbos, he is not obligated to sell his clothing at all.


אמר רבא פשיטא לי נר ביתו ונר חנוכה נר ביתו עדיף משום שלום ביתו

Says Rava: It is obvious to me, that if its a choice between light for his house (on Shabbos - see Rashi) or Channukah light, then the light for his house is more important because of peace in the home.

  • Tractate Shabbos 23b

This is also brought as the accepted Halachah in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 678.

It should be noted that it means minimum. So, if someone had 2 candles, they would split 1 for Shabbos and 1 for Channukah. (not two for shabbos as is customary-see Kaf HaChaim)

However, the Kaf HaChaim says that if a poor man has only 1 candle, it may double as both the Shabbos candle and the Channukah candle at the same time. He claims that in such a difficult situation of poverty, the usual prohibition of not being allowed to benefit from the light is lifted for the sake of the poor man. So he can eat the meal by the light of the Channukah candle in this case. (Kaf HaChaim quoting the Magen Avraham)

So in that case, the obligation to sell the clothing would apply so he could buy 1 Channukah candle, since it would do double service as his Shabbos light.

(Perhaps if he had money for just one candle, he would be spared selling his clothing because he could buy one candle and use it for both Shabbos and Channukah as well.)

He bases this on the fact that in the times of the Gemara, the mitzvah was to light near the street. Therefore, it would never dawn on Rava to say the Menorah could accomplish double service for a poor man on Shabbos (since the Channukah light needed to be in the street, while the Shabbos light had to be in the home). However, later authorities ruled that the obligation to light Menorah is fulfilled in one's home, not facing the street (See S.A. 671:7 based on the opinion of the Rema there).

Therefore, there is room to say the prohibition to use the light would be lifted just as the Gemara allows one to use the light at a time of danger.

The Menorah may be put on one's own table (in the home, and not the street, during times of religious persecution,) and its enough.

The Ran asks how you can put it on your table when you will certainly come to use it. The Ran answers that in such a difficult case, the prohibition to make use of the Channukah lights is lifted.

Further support for this is taken from Shulchan Aruch 673 which brings an opinion that holds one may make use of the Channukah lights for the sake of a mitzvah. (Shabbos light and shalom bayis for the sake of celebrating Shabbos, qualify as a mitzvah.)

However, although some agree with the Kaf HaChaim who says this understanding is possible, not all agree.

In any case, it would seem that a poor man relying on the Magen Avraham would place this one candle in a new location on his table to remind everyone that it is a Channukah light and not just a Shabbos light.

(By the way: Nowadays, if the person had an electric light source, it would work as a Shabbos candle but not a Channukah candle. So money would be spent on a Channukah candle while flipping on the lightbulb before Shabbos, for Shabbos light.)

  • There is no support from Sh.A. 673 - that's because you're not allowed to derive benefit from a mitzvah. However, as regards Shabbos candles, the mitzvah is to derive benefit in the form of light. In which case it's not a support.
    – user18316
    Nov 25, 2018 at 22:35
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – user18316
    Nov 25, 2018 at 22:40
  • Thank you for the interesting Kaf HaChaim, and for explaining it. However, it doesn't actually answer the question; it evades it. The question still stands for someone who lights outdoors, or during the times when lighting outdoors was mandatory.
    – chortkov2
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:04
  • @chortkov2 ah you are welcome.... I wouldn't say that it evades the question. Your question mentions "according to Shulchan Aruch 678" which is connected more to our time than the simple Gemara. Your q doesn't mention the Gemara or those who light outside? My answer however, is a Magen Avraham, and a Kaf HaChaim written as commentary to 678 (which is the basis for your q isn't it?) Nov 26, 2018 at 20:35
  • @chortkov2 BTW (of course BH we should never need to address this issue about someone who has nothing at all for even one candle etc. a man asked the Brisker Rav if he could use milk for the 4 cups, the Rav didn't answer, he gave him wine and meat for the Yom Tov...:) ) I would think that if you told a Rav today that you have the minhag to light outside, but have 0$ or just 1 light, and selling clothing would net you only one candle (which seems unreasonable) he would probably advise you to change your minhag this year and light the one candle inside as both , following the Magen Avraham/Kaf. Nov 26, 2018 at 20:42

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