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Pirsumei Nissa

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב ירון אשכנזי // Answer date: 18.01.2021

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Question:

I live in a neighborhood with little or no Jews. The street I live on has no Jews, at least none that I know. When I light the Chanukah candles where should I light them. Should I light them in the window or since there are no Jews around should I light on the table, or do Into light at all?

Answer:

If there are no Jews around where you live then even though there is no Pirsumei Nissa for the public, just light on the table for your family.
The Rema seems to understand that the since the time of the Gemara the main mitzvah of Pirsumei Nissa is for your family. If there are Jews around then you can light for both, but if there is not, then just light on the table.
Gemara Shabbat daf 21b writes: About the light of Chanukah: the Mitzvah is to light it by the door of one’s house outside. If one lives in a higher floor then light it in window facing Reshut Harabim, the public areas. If it is a time of danger (for example in Paras on their holiday if someone lit a candle they would be arrested or worse) then light ton your table and this is sufficient.
The original Takana of Chanukah was to light the Menorah outside by the doorway of your house or your yard so the passersby would see the Neirot. This is the reason of Pirsumei Nissa, publicizing the miracle of Chanukah. If one lives in in a second story without his own specific entrance from ground floor then he should light in a window facing the street some people can see it. The third guideline was in a time of danger to show the public that you are lighting a Menorah, meaning the Goyim will object strongly and do harm etc. then you may light just on your table.
Shulchan Aruch in 671:5 writes: One should place the Hanukkah light at the entrance which adjoins the public domain, on the outside. If the house opens to the public domain, he should place it at its entrance. If there is a courtyard in front of the house, he should place it at the entrance of the courtyard. If he lives in the upper floor, having no entrance leading to the public domain, he should place it at a window that adjoins the public domain.
The Rema in Seif 7 writes : However nowadays, when all kindle inside, and there is no distinction for the people of the public domain at all, one should not worry so much if we do not kindle it in the handsbreadth closest to the entrance.
The Mishna Berura adds from the Magen Avraham ,however, if they will be more Pirsumei Nissa if you light in window so that the public sees it then you should light there.
R’ Yitzchak Weiss (MInchat Yitzchak) and others explains the Rema holds that nowadays there is no reason to light outside and that the minhag changed so the mitzvah is for the Bnei Habayit, the household, his wife and kids. This was since the Gemara said it was dangerous to light the candles and the main mitzvah became to light for your household. If you have a window which faces the street and can be see from inside the house , not inside your laundry room or your basement, where you can see the Chanukah Neirot from your main living areas.
R’ Moshe Feinstein writes if you are in a place where there are another Jews then you should just light on the able. He explains the main mitzvah of Chanukah is lighting the Neirot, Pirsumei Nissa is secondary. Therefore of course you must light even if there are no Jews around and you fulfill the main part of the Mitzvah which is lighting the candles for your family.
So, you should light inside and do not worry about who is passing by your house.

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