- Question: [Sunday, 24th Kisleiv, 5783]
I was wondering what is the law if I will be going on Mivtzaim to help other Jews light Chanukah candles, and in some cases I will need to say the blessings for them. Number one, is it permitted for me to say the blessing for them, and if I do, will this affect my ability to say the blessings later at night when I light my own candles?
Ideally, you should only go on Mivtzaim after you already light your own candles at home or in yeshiva. If you are in a rush, there is no obligation for you to remain near the candles for ½ hour, and you may simply light them right after sunset and then leave. [This both avoids the issue of repeating the blessings, and as well fulfills the ideal time of lighting according to both Halacha and Chabad custom.] Nonetheless, in the event that you are lighting your own candles only after Mivtzaim [such as if you will need to travel during daytime to your Mivtzaim destination and will go back home or to your yeshiva at night to light there after Mivtzaim], then if you explicitly have in mind to not fulfill your obligation with the blessings said by Miovtzaim, then it is permitted for you to repeat the blessings when you light back at home for your own mitzvah. This applies even if you recited the blessings on behalf of people during Mivtzaim, such as if they do not know how to read the blessing themselves, or do not want to do so for whatever reason, or you are saying the blessing by a public menorah lighting. [Otherwise, they should say the blessings and not you.] If you did not have this explicitly in mind, then while you may repeat the first and second blessing of Lehadlik Ner Chanukah and Sheasa Nissim, you may not repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu.
Explanation: It is a general rule in the laws of blessings over Mitzvos, that one may never initially recite a blessing on behalf of another unless the other person does not know how to say so himself. Thus, on Mivtzaim, one should offer the person to say the blessing themselves, rather than say it for him, and only when there’s no other choice should one say it on their behalf. Now, regarding repeating the blessings later on when you light your own Menorah, if you did not light it before hand, certainly, the blessing of Lehadlik Ner Chanukah must be repeated as you have yet to fulfill your mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles. However, the question is raised regarding whether you should repeat the second blessing of Sheasa Nissim, and likewise on the first night if you should repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu. Regarding the blessing of Shehechiyanu, it is not connected with the fulfillment of the mitzvah of candle lighting and is rather a blessing that is said over the seeing of candles that were lit for the sake of the mitzvah, [or even not for the sake of the mitzvah but for the sake of Pirsumei Nissa, such as in a Shul]. And practically, the Poskim explicitly rule based on this that the person who lit the candles in Shul with the blessings on the first night is not to repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu when he lights at home as he already fulfilled his obligation [unless there are other people at home whom he is also fulfilling the Mitzvah for]. Furthermore, some Poskim learn that this same ruling would apply also to the second blessing of Sheasa Nissim which is also a blessing that is not dependent on one’s personal fulfillment of the mitzvah but rather on the general seeing of any Chanukah lights. Hence, they rule that also the second blessing should not be repeated. Practically, in order to avoid the above issues, the Poskim write that one is to explicitly have in mind to not be Yotzei these blessings when he recites them prior to his lighting, and he may then repeat them at home according to all. If one did not have this in mind, then one must follow the ruling of the Poskim to not repeat the blessing of Shehechiyanu. However, regarding the second blessing of Sheasa Nissim, seemingly one may be lenient to repeat it as aside for the fact that so is the implication of the Poskim who only make issue with the blessing of Shehechiyanu, one can furthermore argue that since the custom of Ashkenazi Jewry is to always light their own candles and to always say these blessings themselves when they light the candles, it is therefore as if they had explicitly in mind to not be Yotzei. A similar argument can be found in the Poskim regarding Sefiras Haomer. To conclude, that in truth based on the ruling of Admur that by rabbinical blessings one can fulfill his obligation even without intending to be Yotzei, everyone should have in mind to not be Yotzei with the blessing said in Shul, and not just the person lighting the candles and saying the blessings, and so explicitly rule some Poskim.
Sources: See regarding the allowance of saying a blessing on behalf of another: M”A 676:4 in name of Hagahos Maimanis; Kaf Hachaim 676:13; Only to do so if he cant say the blessings himself: P”M 676 A”A 4; Admur 8:11 and in 585:5; 273:6; M”A 8:8; 585:3 based on Terumas Hadeshen 140; P”M 8 A”A 8; Opinion in M”B 585:5 and 692:10; Kaf Hachaim 8:21; See regarding repeating the blessing of Shehechiyanu when lighting on behalf of one’s personal obligation after having said the blessings for a public lighting: Shaareiy Teshuvah 671:7; M”B 671:45; See regarding repeating the blessing of Sheasa Nissim when lighting on behalf of one’s personal obligation after having said the blessings for a public lighting: Taharas Hamayim Mareches Ches Os Gimel; Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:103; Birchas Habayis Birchos Chanukah; Yalkut Yosef p. 325 based on Meiri Megillah 23a; Rav SZ”A, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 671 footnote 57; See regarding having in mind to not be Yotzei these blessings: Igros Moshe 1:190; Birchas Habayis Neiros Chanukah; Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:14 footnote 57 and 59