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Shabbat Parashat Miketz 5780

Ask the Rabbi: Chanuka Candles Inside and Outside?

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: I grew up lighting Chanuka candles inside the house. In my community, the uniform practice is to do so outside. I think that is great, but I miss seeing them inside my house. Is it permitted to light a second chanukia indoors (could it be bal tosif)? If permitted, what is the best way to do it?


Answer: Little is written about whether lighting halachically unneeded candles on Chanuka is bal tosif. We will start with general rules regarding mitzvot.

Rishonim ask why it is permitted to blow beyond the first set of tekiot on Rosh Hashana. Tosafot (Rosh Hashana 16b) answers that just repeating a mitzva is not bal tosif. The Rashba answers that it is permitted because it follows Rabbinic instruction. (There is a machloket whether the Rashba also accepts Tosafot’s answer – see Minchat Chinuch #454 and Pri Megadim, Orach Chyaim, Intro. I:40.) There are also opinions (see Ra’avad, arguing on Rambam, Lulav 7:7) that using more of a correct mitzva object than required (e.g., two etrogim), is permitted. It is more lenient when the two objects are used in separate places (see Sukka 31b). On the other hand, maybe the fact that they are both on legitimate parts of one’s house connects them (see later). According to Tosafot and the Ra’avad, then, there is no problem lighting extra chanukiyot, and the Pri Megadim (ibid.) suggests that bal tosif never applies to Rabbinic mitzvot.

There are more basic grounds to say that extra chanukiyot is fine. Even those who argue with Tosafot do not forbid bal tosif for doing more than required regarding every mitzva. Is it forbidden to say Kri’at Shema or mention the Exodus more than required?! Sometimes, more is a good thing. Classical sources and minhagim support the thesis that we look positively on more pirsumei nisa than required by strict Halacha. The Terumat Hadeshen (I:101) says that a man away from home who can fulfill the mitzva with his wife’s lighting can prefer to light himself based on the concept of mehadrin. Also, when one has lit in the correct place but there is a side of the house where the candles cannot be seen, he should light there too (Shulchan Aruch, OC 671:8). We do this without a beracha, apparently because it is not a real mitzva (Rama ad loc. based on the Ran, Shabbat 10a of Rif’s pages). There is a minhag to light candles in shul for Shacharit, without any halachic mandate. These are indications (not proofs) that strengthen the logic that bal tosif should simply not apply to Chanuka lightings, which would explain the near silence on the topic. Therefore, Rav Carmel (one of our roshei kollel) ruled that you need not be machmir and can light freely without a beracha to enhance your experience.

For one who is concerned, despite the above, that there could be a problem, we tersely present some practical ideas. Many posit that if one repeats a mitzva “with a twist” to remove a doubt, there is no bal tosif. (The Shulchan Aruch’s (OC 34:2) idea of putting on Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin at the same time is different because they are mutually exclusive, whereas inside and outside lighting can both be fulfillments.) See (Bemareh Habazak IX:35.) a machloket about putting mezuzot on both doorposts when one is unsure of the correct side. If you have some doubt if your lighting outside is definitely done in the right place/way (see our discussion of the pros and cons on the inside-outside question in Living the Halachic Process, III, D-11) this might eliminate bal tosif questions (see Divrei Yatziv, OC 287). This works better if your wife hears your beracha outside and then lights inside, with the two of you having in mind to be yotzei with the better lighting.

If the lighting is as an extra, other “machmir ideas include lighting without kavana for a mitzva before the mitzva’s time or after the real candles go out. We discourage putting the extra chanukiya in the window, as it goes against the local practice of one, outside lighting, and to use the type of artistic chanukiya (see LTHP, I, D-10) that people like you would use for atmosphere, not
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