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Chanukah- May a Traveling Man Light in a Hotel Room?

The Poskim discuss whether a man who is away from home in a hotel may light Chanukah candles with a Beracha, if his wife is at home lighting for the family. Is he automatically included in the lighting done at home, in which case his Beracha would be L’vatala (in vein)?

The Trumat HaDeshen (Rabbi Yisrael Isserlein, 1390-1460, Ashkenaz) in Siman 101 deals with such a case and rules that he may light with a Beracha. He has the right to light with the Beracha under the category of “Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin” which mandates that every single member of the house lights, which means, in this case, even if he is not in the house.

The Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin, 1365-1427, Germany) also rules that he may light, but for a different reason. He can consciously exclude himself from being subsumed in his wife’s lighting. By having Negative Kavana (intent) he cannot be forced to be included in her Beracha. The Rema (Siman 677) rules in accordance with this Maharil. The Mishna Berura there says that while one cannot object to someone following this Rema, it is preferable not to recite the Beracha himself but to hear it from somebody who is certainly obligated.
On the other hand, the Peri Hadash (Rav Hizkiya Da Silva, 1656-1695) and the Hida (Rabbi Hayim Yosef David Azulai,1724-1807) rule that one should not recite a Beracha when away from home. They argue that negative Kavana does not work in this case because the Misva is on the house, and once they lit at home, it is no longer in his control; his house and him have already fulfilled the Misva.

The consensus of Hacham Bension and Hacham Ovadia in the name of Hacham Ezra Atiya is NOT to recite a Beracha when away from home. If he wants to light without a Beracha, that is his prerogative. However, there is a case in which he would be obligated to light without a Beracha: If one did not know this Halacha and had negative Kavana to exclude himself from his wife’s lighting, he has put himself in a debacle. Now, according to the Maharil and Rema he has not fulfilled his Misva, yet according to the other authorities he has. His only solution is to light, to fulfill the Maharil’s opinion, but not recite a Beracha, in deference to the other opinions.

If one is away from home on Chanukah in a hotel, if his wife is lighting at home, he may light but not recite a Beracha.


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