Sephardic and Yemenite Chanukah Lighting In a Yeshiva or University Dormitory, Part II – Jewish Link of New Jersey

Posted By on December 29, 2019

By Rabbi Haim Jachter | December 26, 2019 Hacham Ovadia Vs. Ribi Messas

Chacham Ovadia (Teshuvot Yechave Daat 6:43) applies the Sephardic practice for only the head of the family to kindle Chanukah lights to even out-of-town yeshiva or university students who reside in an apartment or dormitory. Chacham Ovadia writes that they should not light, as they should rely on their parents lighting, and reciting a bracha in such an instance would be a bracha levatala (a blessing uttered in vain). He insists that Sephardic students do not enjoy the option to opt out of their parents lighting and recite a bracha (based on the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 677:3).

By contrast, the great Moroccan authority Rav Shalom Messas (Teshuvot Tevuot Shemesh Orach Chaim 7 and Teshuvot Shemesh UMagen 2:3) disagrees, and permits those in such a situation to opt out of their parents lighting and recite a bracha on their own lighting. Moroccan Jews are encouraged to follow the ruling of Ribi Shalom especially since students might not feel like they are experiencing Chanukah if they do not light their own lamp in such circumstances. Although Sephardic Jews are accustomed to relying on their parents lighting, they might not feel a part of their parents lighting if they are living at a distance.

I recommend to Sephardic students who live in an out-of-town dormitory (and are not of Moroccan descent) to light their own Chanukah lights but omit the bracha out of respect to Chacham Ovadia. Yalkut Yosef (Orach Chaim 677:4) supports this approach.

There is one scenario in which Chacham Ovadia permits students to recite a bracha on their own lighting. Students who live in a time zone to the east of their parents may recite a bracha since their parents have not yet kindled Chanukah lights. For example, American youngsters learning in an Israeli yeshiva may light their own Chanukah lights and recite a bracha. In such a case, even Chacham Ovadia permits a child to opt out of his parents lighting and recite a bracha (Yalkut Yosef Orach Chaim 677:5).

Rav Shmuel Khoshkerman reports that Rav Ovadia Yosef ruled for the Persian talmidim learning at Baltimores Ner Yisroel yeshiva that they may rely on their parents Chanukah lighting in Iran. This is quite a bold ruling since it is still day in Baltimore when the parents are lighting Chanukah candles in Iran. In such a situation, Rav Moshe Feinstein (as reported by Rav Aharon Felder, Moadei Yeshurun page 21) rules that one does not fulfill the mitzvah of Chanuka lighting with his familys lighting.

Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Kovetz Zichron Yehuda, Sefer Zikaron, vol 1, pg 106-7) rules that yeshiva students whose parents live outside Israel in a different time zone should light and recite a bracha at the yeshiva; otherwise they would not fulfill their obligation (this ruling is also printed in Teshuvot Or LTzion v. 4 p. 281). In Chazon Ovadia (Chanukah page 150), Rav Ovadia writes that in such circumstances the student can either light with a bracha or fulfill the mitzvah with his parents lighting. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo, chapter 14, note 22) also rules that a Sephardic student whose parents live outside Israel in a different time zone can fulfill his obligation with the lighting of his parents.

Rav Ike Sultan of the Yeshiva University kollel adds that for a student attending an institution that does not permit Chanukah candle lighting in the dormitory room, there is an additional reason for him not to recite the bracha and to rely upon his parents lighting. In such a situation it is highly questionable if the student fulfills his obligation by lighting in the institutions dining hall. This is the subject of a great debate between Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Aharon Kotler, as cited by Rav Shimon Eider (Halachos of Chanukah page 37). It is also disputed by Rav Yitzhak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Chanukah 5773 pages 488 and 495) and Rav David Yosef (Torat HaMoadim Chanukah 2:5 p. 49).

Rav Khoshkerman reports that Rav Ovadia also offered the option of fulfilling their mitzvah with the candle lighting performed in the yeshiva at Arvit, as stated in the aforementioned Yechave Daat 6:43.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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Sephardic and Yemenite Chanukah Lighting In a Yeshiva or University Dormitory, Part II - Jewish Link of New Jersey

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