- Question: [Monday 25th Kisleiv 5782]
My wife will not be coming home until about an hour after nightfall. Is it better for me to light by myself on time or should I wait for her to come home in order to light?
It is better in such a case, to wait until your wife comes home in order to light, especially if she is particular to be present for the candle lighting and will be very upset if she misses it.
Explanation: According to strict Talmudic law, one is required to light the candles exactly on time, and at the very least within a half-hour from nightfall. According to some opinions, one who delays lighting past this time has forfeited the mitzvah and is not to light with a blessing. Practically, however, we rule that Bedieved one can still light candles with a blessing even after this time. Furthermore, some opinions rule that this requirement to light by nightfall only applied back then when everyone lit outside, and when people would go to sleep shortly after nightfall. However, in today’s times, that we light inside, and that people go to sleep at a much later hour, the time for the lighting is extended and from the letter of the law it is not required to take place by the exact time of nightfall/sunset, and is rather to take place whenever one’s family is gathered together at night. Despite the above opinion, the Rama concludes, that it is proper even today to initially be careful to light on time by nightfall/sunset. However, seemingly this only applies if one’s family will be present at the time, and hence the Rama is saying that one should try to gather his family together in order to light on time. However, if for whatever reason they are not gathered together by the time of sunset/nightfall, then since the main aspect of lighting candles is to publicize the miracle, therefore, seemingly, it is best to delay lighting until one’s family members arrive home rather than to light on time by oneself without any publication of the miracle, and so conclude some Poskim. This especially applies in the event that one’s wife will be very upset if she misses the candle lighting, then one should definitely wait for her to come home until one lights.
Sources: See regarding the Talmudic obligation to light on time by nightfall: Michaber 672:1-2; Shabbos 21a; M”A 672:2-3; M”B 671:5; See regarding Bedieved lighting with a blessing even after nightfall: Michaber 672:2; Tur 672; Ravayah 972; Hagahos Maimanis brought in M”A 672:6; M”A 672:6 that so is implication of Michaber ibid; Peri Chadash 672; Chemed Moshe 672:3; Machazik Bracha 672:2; M”B 672:1; Stringent opinion: Rambam Chanukah 4:5, brought in Tur 672; Tosafus Shabbos 21, Implication of Rosh ibid, brought in Beis Yosef 672, and M”A 672:6; See regarding the ruling today that lighting on time is not so crucial any longer: Moadim Uzmanim 2:141; 6:86; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:390; Mishneh Halachos 4:79; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:4; Or Letziyon 1:45; Bnei Yisachar, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 672 footnote 16; See regarding waiting for one’s family to arrive home until one lights: Nitei Gavriel 3:10 based on Makor Chaim 672:1 and Poskim brought next; Hiskashrus Chanukah; See the following Poskim who all rule that according to our custom today, one is to light at night when one’s family is all present: M”A 672:5 in name of Machzor Maglei Tzedek Minhagei Wormz p. 240; Chayeh Adam 154:20; M”B 672:10; Kaf Hachaim 672:24 [Now, although the Rama ibid concludes that even today one is to initially be particular in this, seemingly one can argue that according to the above Poskim, this is coming to say that one should be particular to make sure that his household is gathered by the proper time, however, if they are not, then he should light later on when they arrive. Vetzaruch Iyun, as one can argue to the contrary, that the novelty of the Rama’s conclusion is that one should light on time, even if his family is not present. Vetzaruch Iyun.]