Where are Yeshiva and seminary students, to light the Chanukah candles-In their dorm room, or dining room?

Where are students who dorm [i.e. Yeshiva Bochurim, seminary girls, college students, soldiers on base] to light the Chanukah candles-In their dorm room, or dining room?[1]

A. Background:

Their lighting obligation:[2] Bochurim [single Yeshiva students, as well as Bochurot, single girls] who live in Yeshiva [or seminary] do not fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, and are thus required to light candles with a blessing from the letter of the law, and not merely due to the Ashkenazi custom of Mehadrin.[3] [However, some Poskim[4] rule that students of a Yeshiva and seminary do fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, and are thus not obligated to light candles from the letter of the law. Thus, according to this opinion, and according to the ruling of the Sephardim that only one candle is lit per household, the students are specifically not to light candles, and if they choose to do so, are not to recite a blessing.[5] However, for Ashkenazim, even if we were to accept the notion that they fulfill their obligation with the lighting of their parents or Rosh Yeshiva, they would still light candles with a blessing [having in mind not to fulfill their obligation with their parents or Rosh Yeshiva’s lighting[6]] as is their custom of Mehadrin.[7]]

Lighting in area of eating versus area of sleeping: If one eats and sleeps in two different houses [on a steady basis[8]], then [in times of the Talmud that everyone would light the Menorah outside the house[9]] one would light in the area that he sleeps.[10] However, in today’s times that we all light inside the home, some Poskim[11] rule one is to light in the area that he eats.[12] Practically, so is the custom to light in the area that one eats.[13] [Thus, if one owns two homes, or two apartments, and he uses one for eating and one for sleeping, he is to light candles in the home used for eating. One is to thus endeavor that his family be in the eating area during the candle lighting, in order to publicize the miracle. Nonetheless, if one is unable to get his family to be present by the eating area for the candle lighting, then he may even initially light in his sleeping area where his family is present.[14]]

B. The law:

Some Poskim[15] rule that a Yeshiva student and seminary girl should light in the area that he/she eats [i.e. Dining room]. Other Poskim[16], however, rule he/she should light in his dorm room.[17] Some[18] suggest that one is to light in his room, and eat at least one meal in his room during Chanukah. Practically, the custom is like the latter opinion, for the students to light in their private rooms.[19] However, if there is worry of fire, the students may light in the dining room. In all cases, the students are to follow the instructions of the management [Hanhala], and if they do not allow to light in the rooms, the students are to light in the dining room.[20] According to IDF protocol, the candles may not be lit in the rooms, and may only be lit in the dining room.

Students who sleep at home but eat in Yeshiva:[21] A student who sleeps at home, but eats in the Yeshiva, falls under the above-mentioned dispute regarding where he is to light, and practically, the custom is to light at home. However, in a time of need, such as if lighting at home will cause Bittul Torah, the student may light in the dining room.


[1] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 677:6

[2] M”A 677:1 [see also M”A 677/9]; Admur 263:9; Rashal 85; Chayeh Adam 154:32; Derech Hachaim 2; P”M 671 M”Z 1; M”B 677:1; Az Nidbaru 3:53; 11:34; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677:6

[3] The reason: There are several reasons to obligate the Yeshiva Bochurim to light candles, and invalidate their ability to be Yotzei with their parents or Rosh Yeshiva: They cannot be Yotzei with their parents as a) they are no longer living at home and are not considered dependents of their parents when away. [Implication of M”A ibid; Admur ibid; Poskim ibid] and b) As their parents are not lighting from candles which they own and did not acquire them a part of the oil and perhaps do not have in mind to be Yotzei them. [as explained in A in Q&A] and c) As they have their own room, and they are thus not Yotzei with their parents at home, even if they were to be considered a dependent of their parents, as explained in Halacha A. They also cannot be Yotzei with the Rosh Yeshiva as they pay tuition for room and food, thus making them considered independent of their Rosh Yeshiva and as if they have their own home. [See Halacha A; Maharsham 4:146; Chovas Hador 2 footnote 15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677:1] Now, since they are not Yotzei with their parents at home, and cannot be considered a dependent of the Rosh Yeshiva, therefore, they must light their own candles. This would apply for both Sefaradim and Ashkenazim. [Az Nidbaru ibid]

Lighting one set of candles on behalf of all the students: Seemingly, from the letter of the law, it suffices if one set of candles is lit in the dining room, by an appointee of the Yeshiva or seminary, on behalf of the entire student body, as they are considered dependents of the Yeshiva or seminary and once one candle is lit, everyone is Yotzei, just like one candle is Motzi an entire family. However, according to those Poskim who rule that payment of a room separates oneself from the household [Maharsham 4:146; Chovas Hador 2 footnote 15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677:1] then in truth there is never a status of a household amongst a paying student body, and everyone must like their own personal candles, or be Yotzei through Shituf. Seemingly, even according to this approach it would suffice for the appointee to have in mind to acquire the oil to every student in the Yeshiva/seminary and hence they are Yotzei with that lighting even in accordance to the latter opinion.

[4] Machzor Vitri 1:238 “Those who travel in order to learn Torah, are not required to light or join with a Peruta if they know that their wife, or father or mother is lighting at home.”; Yechaveh Daas 6:53 that they are included in both their parents lighting and the lighting of the Rosh Yeshiva; Toras Hamoadim 2:4 [Rav David Yosef]; See Chovas Hador 1 footnote 49 regarding them being included in the lighting of the Rosh Yeshiva [seemingly contradicting his statement in 2 footnote 15]; See Maharil 145, brought in M”A ibid that Bochurim may light as they follow the Ashkenazi custom of Mehadrin, this would imply that a) Bochurim are Yotzei with their parents and b) according to the Sephardi custom are not to light candles, as rules one of the opinions brought in Terumos Hadeshen ibid, recorded in Taz 677:1, however perhaps the ruling in the M”A in name of Maharil is referring to Bochurim who are supported by their hosts, as writes M”A 677:1 and hence nothing of their opinion can be inferred from here, regarding Bochurim of today.

[5] Yechaveh Daas ibid; See Halacha 2C and Q&A

[6] See Maharil 145 brought in M”A 677:9

[7] Rama 677:3; Taz 677:1; M”A 677:9; Terumos Hadeshen 101; Maharil 145; Machatzis Hashekel 677:1; Aruch Hashulchan 677:5; M”B 677:16; Yechaveh Daas ibid

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that if we accept the notion that the students are Yotzei with their families, then it is forbidden for them to light with a blessing, even if he has in mind to not be Yotzei with his families lighting, as this is not within his ability. [Opinion in Terumos Hadeshen ibid, brought in Taz ibid; Beis Yosef 677; Rashal 85; Chayeh Adam 154:33; M”B 677:16; Kaf Hachaim 676:25; 677:7; Yechaveh Daas 6:53]

[8] M”A 677:7; Taz 677:2; Kneses Hagedola 677; Bach 677; Elya Raba 677:3; M”B 677:12; Kaf Hachaim 677:21

What is the definition of a steady basis? See Chovas Hador 2 footnote 3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677 footnote 21

[9] M”A 677:6 and Taz 677:2 that even according to the Michaber and Rosh, they only said to light in the sleeping area in those times.

[10] Michaber 677:1; Tur in name of Rosh

[11] Rashba 542, brought in Rama 677:1

Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule that even today one is to light in the area that he sleeps. [Rashal, brought in Taz 677:2]

[12] The reason: The entire reason for choosing the area of sleeping over the area of eating is due to Chashad, that people will say that the people did not fulfill the Mitzvah. However, today that people light inside their homes, and there is no longer worry of Chashad, one should light in the eating area, being that it is the main area obligated in the Mitzvah. [See M”B 677:11-12]

[13] Rama ibid

[14] Implication of M”A 677:7; Minchas Yitzchak 7:48; Piskeiy Teshuvos 677 footnote 22

[15] Rama ibid that we follow the area of eating; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:343 in name of Chazon Ish

[16] Minchas Yitzchak 7:48; Igros Moshe O”H 4:70-3; Yoreh Deah 3:14-5; Shevet Halevi 3:83; Az Nidbaru 5:38; Lehoros Nassan 6:44; Moadim Uzmanim 6:87; Chovas Hador 1 footnote 59

[17] The reason: As a) the students spend more time in the private rooms, than in the dining room, and that is their main residents. B) There is greater Pirsumei Nissa, as they will remain in their rooms, and see the candles. C) Lighting in the dining room will cause confusion of whose candles is whose, and the Pirsumei Nissa will hence be affected. [Poskim ibid] For all these reasons, it is not similar to the case the Rama ibid spoke of, in which he ruled one should light in the area of eating.

[18] See Shevet Halevi ibid; Minchas Yitzchak ibid; Chovas Hador ibid; Az Nidbaru 7:69; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[19] Shevet Halevi ibid; Minchas Yitzchak ibid; Chovas Hador ibid; Az Nidbaru ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[20] Az Nidbaru ibid; Moadim Uzmanim ibid

[21] Minchas Yitzchak ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

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