(Adapted and translated from Hilchos Chanuka by Rav Yoel Schwartz Shlit"a)


A: This page discusses the status of a person who is away from home at the time of lighting Chanuka lights (traveler). 1) Under which conditions is a traveler exempt from having to return home to light? b) Under which conditions is a traveler, included in the lighting of his host?

A traveler is exempt from having to return home and kindle Chanuka lights if a) Someone back home will kindle the Chanuka lights. b) If the traveler is considered to have "relocated" from his home. There are various opinions among the posskim what is considered "relocation". Does the term apply only to a person who is away from his home the entire Chanuka, or even just part of Chanuka? What if the person is away from home, but is still in the same city? What if the person plans on returning home, before the night is over? These issues will be discussed later on.

A guest is included in the lighting of the host if a) he participated in the purchase of the oil and wicks. b) If he becomes a member of the host's household. How a person becomes a member of the host's household is discussed later on.

B: Household: The kindling of Chanuka lights by any member of the household includes all members of the household, even those that aren't present. In the event that they are in a different time zone, a rabbi should be consulted.

(According to the Sefaradi custom, the traveler is included in the lighting back home, and may not choose to light for himself wherever he is. The Ashkanzi custom permits the traveler to decide that he doesn't want to be included in the kindling back home, and to kindle his own Chanuka lights.)

A traveler is included in the kindling of his own household only if he is assured that they are aware of their responsibility to light. If he is unsure whether or not a member of his household will kindle Chanuka lights back home, he is not included in their kindling, even if he discovers later on that they did kindle Chanuka lights.

Although a traveler is included in the lighting of his household he is nevertheless required to observe the kindling of the Chanuka lights at his present location and to hear the brachos.

2. Two people living together in the same house, and they purchase their food jointly. The posskim differ as to whether in such a case is one is included in the other person's lighting. If they purchase their meals separately, they are surely not included in each other person's lighting.

Two people living together, who bought the oil together. There are different opinions among the posskim as to whether they can fulfill their obligation by lighting one menorah for both.

3) A guest living by his host is required to participate in the purchase of the oil and wicks and he is then included in the lighting of the host. According to the Ashkenazi custom he may choose to light his own menorah. According to the Sefaradi custom he may not do so.

According to the Ginas V'radim, a guest who is dependent on his host for his meals and all other needs, is considered as if he already participated in the purchase of the oil and wicks, and is therefore included in the lighting of his host. Other posskim differ with this opinion. The Sefaradi custom is to follow the opinion of the Ginas V'radim. It seems from the Mishnah Brurah (677:1) that he differs with the Ginas V'radim.

C: Members of the Household: According to the Mishnah Brurah, included in a household are only those people that always rely on the head of the household for their sustenance. This includes his wife, his children and permanent live-in employees. A guest, even if fully supported by his host, is not considered a member of the household, since he is only there temporarily. The Ginas V'radim differs, and considers such a guest a member of the household.

A Yeshivah student who eats all his meals in the Yeshivah dining room (without the parents paying tuition), a soldier who gets all his meals from the army, a patient permanently in an institution, an elderly person in an old age home etc. is considered a member of their respective establishment, and is included in the lighting of the establishment.

A patient temporarily at a hospital is not considered a member of the establishment according to the Mishnah Brurah, while the Ginas V'radim differs.

A Yeshivah student (whose parents don't pay his tuition) and a single soldier are not considered members of their parent's household, and are not included in their lighting. Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a differs and considers them a member of their parent's household, since they always return to their parents home when they have a vacation. [If they come to their parents house for Chanuka vacation, the custom is to consider them a member of their parent's household, (provided they are not yet married).]

D: Status of Guests:

1) A guest who eats and sleeps at his host, and does not have anyone lighting for him back home, can participate with his host's lighting by chipping in for the oil and wicks. According to the Ashkenazi custom he may choose to light on his own, while the Sefaradi custom does not permit this. (If a guest eats in one house and sleeps elsewhere, he should consult a competent Rabbi and ask him where he should light his menorah.)

2) The need to participate in the purchase of oil applies only if the guest eats his own meals at his host's house, or he pays in detail for every item he eats. If the guest pays a blanket fee for all his expenses, or if his expenses are covered by his host, the Gan Hamelech does not require him to participate in the purchase of the oil, since he his already considered a partial owner of the oil. The Sefaradi custom is to follow the opinion of Gan Hamelech, however it is preferable for the guest to ask the host to verbally specify that he is making the guest partial owner of the oil.
The Ashkenazi custom is to require this guest to participate in the purchase of the oil and wicks.

3) How does one participate in the purchase of the oil? He pays his host (at least a prutah value) and thus buys a portion of the host's oil and wicks. He may obtain partial ownership of the oil and wicks by doing any other halachic method of 'purchasing' (e.g. lifting the oil and wicks). [If the host purchased more oil or wicks later on, the guest must again do this act of 'acquiring' on the new oil and wicks.]

According to some opinions the host must add more oil than usual, in order to include the guest in his lighting. Some posskim maintain that if the host usually fills up the cup on the menorah entirely with oil, he can not include the guest with his lighting, since he cannot add oil for the guest. According to other posskim verbal specification to include the guest in the lighting will suffice.

4. Participating with the host exempts the guest from kindling his own menorah, only if the guest is staying in the same apartment with the host. If the guest is staying at a separate apartment he is obligated to light his own menorah in that apartment. [If he also participated with his host, he should not recite brachos when lighting in his private dwelling quarters.] According to the Sefaradi custom, he must also participate with the host, and be included in the host's brachos.

Two guests staying together in an apartment, where the host is not lighting candles, are obligated to light their own menorah. They may choose to participate together in the lighting expenses, and light one menorah for both of them. (They may even choose for each of them to light on alternate days.) They may also light separate menoros even according to the Sefaradi custom, since there is nobody lighting for them back home.

E: Relocating from Home: A person who is in the city where he dwells, cannot kindle Chanuka lights outside of his house, unless he relocated from his house. What is considered relocation? If he is visiting someone (e.g. parents) and will stay there the entire Chanuka (even if he eats an occasional meal at home) he may light Chanuka candles at the place he is staying. In the event that a person will stay at the place he is visiting for less than the majority of Chanuka, there are different opinions among the posskim where this person should light. According to some posskim even if this person is just spending the night away from home, he is not required to kindle Chanuka lights at home. Other posskim maintain that in such a case he should have someone kindle Chanuka lights at his home and should also participate with the lighting of his host.

A person spending the night outside of the city he lives in, is not required to have someone light for him back home. [One of the great Yerushalmi posskim is of the opinion that he has the same rules as if he stayed in his home town.] If however he plans on returning to his home that night, he should kindle Chanuka lights back at home.

In the case where a person spent the previous night away from home, and is still at his host the following evening at lighting time, but plans to return home before the next night is over, the posskim differ whether or night he should participate with his host's lighting, or should kindle his own lights after returning home.

A person getting married on Chanuka should consult a competent rabbi and ask him where is the proper place for him to kindle Chanuka lights. The guest though are required to light at home before leaving for the wedding, or to have a messenger light for them at home.

F: Rules Pertaining to Guests Lighting: A guest kindling Chanuka lights at the place where he is staying, includes in his lighting the members of his household that are together with him. If any members of the household remained at home, or are visiting elsewhere, they should kindle their own lights, and are not included in the lighting of the head of the family.

As mentioned above, a visitor is exempt from kindling Chanuka lights where he is staying, if someone lights for him back home. According to some posskim he should nevertheless kindle his own lights, lest he suspected of not fulfilling his obligation of kindling Chanuka lights. It therefore would be preferable for such a person to consult a rabbi and ask him for the proper procedure.

One who will be traveling on a plane during the time of candle lighting should consult a rabbi for the proper procedure.