- Question: [Monday, 25h Kisleiv, 5783]
I run a store which works late hours and wanted to know if I can fulfill my obligation of lighting candles by lighting candles in the store such as in my office where I spend a lot of my time during the day at work? Or, must I wait to get home to light?
If you eat all, or majority and the main bulk, of your meals at the store, then you can light the candles there at its proper time. If you only eat a minority of meals in the store or office, and certainly if you don’t eat there proper meals at all and rather eats quick snacks and lunches, and wait to get home to eat a proper meal, then you must wait until you return home to light. You may however light candles in a viewable area within the store simply for the sake of Pirsumei Nissa, even though you do not fulfill your obligation with this lighting.
The obligation to light Chanukah candles applies specifically within the home in which one lives. In the words of the Talmud, “Ner Ish Ubeiso.” Accordingly, the Poskim rule that one cannot fulfill his obligation and mitzvah through lighting candles in a random area, and the mitzvah only applies and can only be fulfilled when lit within his home. Based on this, it is also ruled that no one fulfills their obligation by a public lighting such as in the street or in a synagogue, including the person who lit the candles and said the blessings, being that the mitzvah apply specifically to his home. Furthermore, based on this some Poskim go as far as to rule that one who is homeless is not obligated in the mitzvah at all. Whatever the case, even those who disagree and obligate a homeless person to light candles, agree that one who owns a home must specifically light within his home to fulfill his obligation. Thus, when challenged with the question if a store or business owner can fulfill his obligation by lighting in his store or office, the real question that is raises is regarding whether one’s store or office can be considered also like his home being that he spends much time there, and hence he can fulfill his obligation there as well, or if it is not considered his home being that he does not sleep there, and therefore he must light upon his return home to fill his mitzvah and lighting in the store or office would be useless. So, in this regard we find a discussion in the Poskim if one’s main location regarding the Chanukah candles is his place of eating or his place of sleeping, and practically the main ruling and initial custom follows that the area of eating is one’s main area, and hence if one eats and sleeps in two different areas he should light in the area that he eats. Based on all this we can rule as follows regarding if one can light or even should light by his store. If one eats all of his meals at work in his office or store, including breakfast lunch and dinner, then certainly, his office and store is his area of eating versus his house which is his area of sleeping, and hence he may even initially light the candles in the store or office to fulfill his obligation. If, however, he only eats a minority of meals in the store or office, and certainly if he doesn’t eat there proper meals at all and rather eats quick snacks and lunches, then his house is both his area of eating and sleeping, and hence he cannot fulfill his obligation with lighting in the store.
Sources: See regarding the obligation to light specifically where one lives and not in a random area: Rama 671:7 and Rivash 111 that one does not fulfill his obligation with the Shul’s Menorah lighting; Taz 677:2 “Lighting by the meal would be similar to one who is lighting the candles in middle of the street, which of course has no relevance to the Mitzvah.”; Rebbe in Hisvadyos 1987 2 p. 98 that the participants do not fulfill their obligation with such lighting and thus should be informed that they must still light in their homes; See regarding following the area where one eats versus the area where one sleeps: Michaber 677:1 [area of sleep]; Rama 677:1 [area of eat]; Rashba 542 [eat]; Tur in name of Rosh [sleep]; Rashal, brought in Taz 677:2 [sleep]