Weddings on Chanukkah | Issues in Halacha

A Chanukah wedding may have a number of halachic implications for both the couple and the wedding attendees.

The Mitzvah To Light in Ones Home

The place where a person lights the Chanukah candles is just as important, even more important, than the time when he or she lights. The halacha requires that the Menorah is kindled in one’s place of residence. (Even though, the menorahs are lit in public places such as shuls, one does not fulfill his mitzvah of Chanukka candles with this lighting.) Temporary residence is also considered one’s residence for the purpose of lighting the candles; i.e. the place where a person sleeps that night is the place where he or she should light the menorah.

Where Should the Choson and Kallah light the Menorah?

If the Chosson and Kallah plan to leave their parents’ house (or their place of residence the previous night) only after Shkiyah (sunset), which is not quite uncommon in December when the sun sets around 4:30 –  they should light the candles before they set out for the wedding hall. The reason for this is that the mitzvah of the Chanukah candles begins after sunset, and since at that time the choson and kallah find themselves in a place that is still considered their ‘current’ residence, they should light the menorah there. The couple’s new place of residence (wherever they will be going to after the wedding – their own apartment or hotel) is still considered to be ‘in the future’, regardless how long they’ve been paying rent for the place.

If the Choson and Kallah leave for the hall before Shkiyah, and thus are unable to light at their parents’ house, they should light in their residence (hotel, apartment, …whatever) after the wedding. (If the wedding reception is in the same hotel where the couple is staying, they should (if they could) try to sneak out to their room to light there at the proper time).

Eating Before Lighting

It is halachically improper to sit down to major festivities before fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting. If the couple will be lighting their menorah after the wedding they should appoint a shomer – someone (or even something such as an alarm) to remind them to light – preferably before midnight, or before sunrise (alos hashachar) – the latest.

The Guests

Similar guidelines apply to guests attending a Chanukkah wedding. If  a  person attending a wedding leaves his or her house after Shkiyah, he or she should light there and then. If they are leaving before Shkiyah, they should light when they return. They should also set up a way (a shomer or an alarm) through which they will be reminded to light upon their return before the night is up.

The above overview has been written based upon ‘The Selected Halachos  of Chanukah’ – a preview printing of a work-in-progress – by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat.

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