Working while candles are lit

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Doing work while the candles are lit:[1]

Work is permitted throughout the eight days of Chanukah. However, it is the custom for women not to do any work while the candles are lit [for the first half hour[2]].[3] Women may not be lenient in this.[4] [In some places, this custom exists likewise for men[5] and so is the implied Chabad custom.[6] One should follow in accordance to his custom.]

When is work avoided: Work for women [and some men] is specifically avoided while the candles are lit, in order to serve as a reminder that it is forbidden to make use of the light.[7] Alternatively, this is done in order to properly contemplate the miracle that occurred.[8] 

Performing work after a half hour: After the candles have been lit for a half hour, one may perform all forms of work[9], though not in full view of the burning lights.[10] This applies equally to the first and last night’s of Chanukah.[11]



Women may not perform work within 30 minutes from when the candles are lit. After 30 minutes, work may be done not in the presence of the candles. Although this prohibition does not apply to men, it is the Chabad custom for men to remain near the candles for the first 30 minutes, and likewise avoid performance of work.



Which types of work are refrained from being done in the first half hour of the lighting?[12]

Some write that one is not to do any work that is forbidden on Yom Tov. Hence, only forms of work permitted on Yom Tov are permitted at this time.[13] Others write that only clothing related work is forbidden, such as laundry and sewing and the like.[14] [Nonetheless, it is best to refrain from doing any work in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.[15]]


May a woman cook or prepare dinner while the candles are lit?

It is best to refrain from doing any work, including cooking and meal preparations for the first half hour, in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle.[16]


Sparks of Chassidus

A Segula for woman:[17]

According to tradition, women who refrain from work on Chanukah receive healing and Divine assistance. Hence, some women have a tradition that if they ever enter into danger they vow not to do work on one of the days of Chanukah and they are saved.


Reason work is permitted during Chanukah:

Work is permitted during Chanukah, unlike other holidays, being that the ray of Chochmah enters into Malchus. Nevertheless, the candles themselves are a level sublime Holiness, and hence, when the candles are lit, and this revelation is taking place, one may not do any work in face of the candles.



[1] Michaber 670:1

[2] See below

[3] The reason for the custom by women: The reason for why this custom relates specifically to women is because it is through them that the miracle took place. [Taz 670:2; M”A 670:1. As explained above regarding Yehudis who killed the general who besieged Jerusalem.] Alternatively, the reason is because the decrees of the Geeks were especially difficult for women, as they were decreed to spend the first night of their wedding with the Greek master. [Kitzur SH”A 139:3] As for why they avoid work specifically while the candles are lit, this is in order to serve as a reminder that it is forbidden to make use of the light [Machatzis Hashekel brought in M”B 670:4], or alternatively in order to properly contemplate the miracle that occurred. [Levush 570:1, brought also in Kaf Hachaim 570:7]

[4] Michaber ibid states: Some say one may not allow women to be lenient in this matter.

[5] Taz 670:2 in name of Maharil who received such a tradition; M”B 670:3. Taz himself rules that men are certainly not included in this custom.

[6] Implication of Sefer Haminhagim which states that one is to stay near the lights for 30 minutes and that after the set time one may do work not in full view of the candles. This implies that prior to the set time men are to avoid work during that half hour, as learns the Maharil. [Hiskashrus Chanukah; Other Melaktim [Shevach Hamoadim, Piskeiy Teshuvos] do not mention this law to apply also regarding men.]

[7] Machatzis Hashekel brought in M”B 670:4

[8] Levush 570:1, brought also in Kaf Hachaim 570:7

[9] M”B 670:4; Sefer Haminhagim p. 160 [English edition]

Other Opinions: The simple meaning behind the words of the Michaber is that work may not be done by women so long as the candles are lit. The Magen Avraham explains this to mean until the candles of the Shul extinguish, which is until midnight. Others have a custom to refrain from work the entire festival of Chanukah, although others have denounced this custom and asked for it to be nullified. [M”A 670:2] 

[10] Sefer Haminhagim ibid; See Michaber 672:2 that work may even be done in view of the candles. However see M”B 672:8 based on Rashal brought in M”A ibid that one may not do work using the light of the candles so long as they are lit.

[11] Sefer Haminhagim ibid

[12] Piskeiy Teshuvos 670:2

[13] The Munkatcher would not even write while the candles are lit. [ibid]

[14] The reason: As it is illogical to claim that the work at this time is more severe than that of Chol Hamoed. [ibid]

[15] See next Q&A regarding cooking.

[16] It is permitted to cook and do other meal preparations. However, some write that it is best to refrain from the above during the first half hour. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 670:2] Practically, so seems to be the proper custom, to avoid all work at all in order to properly contemplate the Chanukah miracle during that time, as writes the Levush.

[17] Ben Ish Chaiy brought in Kaf Hachaim 670:10

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