From a shiur by HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein. Thanks to Reuven Weiser and Yehuda Septimus for their help in compiling the notes.


The gemara in Shabbat 23a states that a courtyard that has two entranceways requires that Chanukah candles be lit at each one. Rava limits this to a case where the entranceways were on different sides. His reasoning is that if they are different sides we worry that someone who passes by the side which does not have the candle will assume that the homeowner did not light at all. Who are these people that we are worried about? The gemara concludes that it is referring to residents of that town who are walking by one side and will suspect that no candles were lit. Thus, from this gemara we get two issues: the idea of chshad (suspicion), and to whom we apply this suspicion.

The previous gemara also utilized the idea of chshad, with regard to a visitor lighting. Rif states that a visitor should pay his hosts the minimally recognized sum of sum (mishtateif bi-perutah) and fulfill his obligation through his host's lighting, since he himself has no entranceway of his own. However, if he has his own entrance then he should light for himself due to chshad. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 671, 677) brings down both of these laws - that a courtyard with two entranceways needs two candles and that a visitor with his own entrance must light for himself - both times utilizing the reasoning of chshad.

Ran raises the issue as to whether or not this suspicion is strong enough to create the need for another bracha to be said. He concludes that one would say only one bracha when lighting by two entranceways. Orchot Chaim (#13) states that a person whose courtyard has two entrances need only light once if he does so inside the house, since a person who enters the house will see the candles regardless of which entrance he uses. He then states that in a case where one person owns two adjacent houses that face separate directions, two candles must be lit but only one blessing is made. However, he seems to be somewhat unsure about this ruling. Nevertheless, he justifies his ruling by stating that the lighting is an obligation on the person, and should really only be done once, and the second lighting is done merely to avoid any possible suspicion. He continues to say that even if each lighting is its own mitzvah, meaning that the obligation is on the house and not on the person, even so only one blessing would be made, similar to other cases where we perform a mitzvah several times with one bracha (such as the Sefaradi minhag to say only one bracha on tefillin).

When the Orchot Chaim raises the possibility of there being two distinct mitzvot at work here, he is speaking about current times, which revert back to the case in the gemara. Or do they? His case is not quite that of the gemara, namely one courtyard with two entranceways, but rather a case of two houses, which may not have such an issue. Thus, the question becomes whether his notion of two mitzvot applies just to his case or to the case of the gemara as well. Perhaps it works only in his case, as the house is the unit that generates the obligation (lighting Chanukah candles is an obligation on "each man and his house"). Beyond that, we have to ask how far the law of the Orchot Chaim extends. To what extent can we invoke the idea of chshad? Do we say it only on the level of a commandment that is generated by the individual (chovat gavra)? Perhaps the chshad element is part and parcel of the law - just like a house needs a mezuzah, so too does it need to have Chanukah candles.

In his next paragraph (#14), the Orchot Chaim raises the issue of one who has no house and entertains the notion that such a person would be free from any obligation to light Chanukah candles in the same way that he has no obligation to put up a mezuzah. However, he rejects this notion and claims that lighting Chanukah candles is an obligation on the individual, and thus this case is more or less the case of a visitor.

Returning now to the issue of a potential bracha generated by the notion of chshad, it is noteworthy that the Shulchan Aruch avoids this entire issue. Ramo says that only one bracha would be made (then goes on to say that this law would be largely inapplicable nowadays). The Magen Avraham, commenting on the laws of a guest also states that one does not make a blessing as a result of chshad. However, he suggests a theoretical distinction between our two cases (although he does not offer a reason for his split):

  1. A person who has two entrances at least fulfills his mitzvah in one of them, whereas the guest, by opening up his own entrance, is no longer subject to his host and thus might need to make his own bracha.
  2. We noted that the Orchot Chaim suggests that two homes might mean two separate mitzvot. Perhaps the same could be said by a guest who has his own entrance. Insofar as he is part of the larger house in which he resides, by opening up his own entrance he creates a situation analogous to that of two houses.

The Magen Avraham rules that if one has two houses each one needs its own candle, even if they are facing the same direction. What he neglects to state is whether or not chshad plays a role here and what is done with regard to the blessing. What would chshad mean here? Do we say that one has to alleviate a problem of chshad by lighting a second time, or do we say that when such a situation exists then the Sages come along and qualitatively alter the mitzvah? What results from this is that we might require a candle in the second house if only due to chshad.

What about a person who has apartments in several places? Would he have to light in all of them? It seems that the answer is that he would not (although the Magen Avraham implies that he may have to do so). By mezuzah one's house needs a mezuzah as long as he maintains it, while the mitzvah of Chanukah candles may depend solely on where one currently resides. The Pri Chadash asks about where a person lights if he travels with his wife and children to visit his parents. Since no one is left in his house, he may light in the house in which he is visiting.

What does one need to do in order to sufficiently alleviate the problem of chshad? Can one have a child light? While the child is not obligated to light and cannot fulfill the mitzvah on behalf of an adult, a passerby certainly does not know who lit, but knows only that someone lit and thus there is no suspicion! If chshad is merely an external issue then this should work, but if it becomes an inherent law of Chanukah candles then it should be problematic. A similar issue might arise with regard to women (see Chabura, also by Rav Lichtenstein, about women lighting Chanukah candles).

Even if we allow that women and children might be able to counter the chshad issue, we still have to establish one criterion. With regard to the idea that the lighting itself is the mitzvah (hadlaka oseh mitzvah - everything must be perfectly set up at the moment the candles are lit, and thus one may not, for example, light the wick and then add in sufficient oil), we say that the lighting done by a child, a fool, and a deaf-mute are invalid. What does this mean? On the one hand it could mean that they are incapable of fulfilling the mitzvah on behalf of others. However, it is possible that it means that their lighting does not even count as a lighting! If we say this second option, then we may have trouble having a child light to get us out of the chshad problem, since even though the flame is lit, it is not considered to exist in the eyes of halacha (this problem would not arise by a woman).

This same dialectic would apply to any case where the candle was lit by one who is not normally obligated to light or whose obligation is not the same as an adult male's. Similarly, it may apply in cases where the candles were lit for some purpose other than to fulfill the mitzvah of Chanukah candles - as long as we consider the candles to be lit, they can alleviate the chshad problem regardless of why they are lit.

Two final questions. First, if a person is living in two houses at once, should he light in both places (no one says that one must do so)? The second question deals with the notion that one must light from sunset until people stop walking around the streets. Nowadays, people light either in the first half-hour that one may do so or they extend what is considered to be the time at which people are still walking around, thus providing a leniency that covers getting home late from work. However, would one have to have candles burning for the entire extended time period? Even further, if one is actually able to light at the earliest possible moment, would they have to insure that their candles stay lit for the entire extended period, since people coming home later may see that his candles are not lit (since they already burned out) and thus may suspect that he did not light?


(Rav Lichtenstein ended with that question - it appears that he asked it as a means of testing the ideas presented and not in any way to suggest that it might be the law)

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