by R. Daniel Mann
Question: My family will be at my parents’ house for Shabbat Chanuka and will be leaving there for home (an hour commute) relatively soon after Shabbat. Where should I light Chanuka candles?
Answer: An achsenai (guest) is obligated to light unless his family lights on his behalf at home (Shabbat 23a). While the achsenai’s obligation can be fulfilled by chipping in for the host’s lighting (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 677:1), he usually lights his own candles there (Mishna Berura 677:3), which we assume you will do on Friday.
On Motzaei Shabbat, there is a two-fold question. Does your achsenai status continue as you are leaving? If it does (or can), is it preferable to light earlier at your temporary home or later at your real home?
Most poskim (including Chazon Ovadia (Yosef), Chanuka, p. 155, Chovat Hadar, Chanuka 1:(65), Teshuvot V’hanhagot I:391) rule that it is better, if possible, to light at your own home. Realize that differing circumstances impact on the latest time to light, and there are also various opinions. It is best to light when the public is still on the streets, especially if one usually lights outside or in a visible window. If you cannot make it by such a time, it is better to light in your parents’ home (Teshuvot V’hanhagot ibid.).
Rav S.Z. Auerbach (cited in Halichot Shlomo, Chanuka p. 279) generally prefers the host’s home, with a condition. He says that since when the obligation takes effect, his host’s house is his “home,” he should fulfill the mitzva then and there. He posits, in contrast to Rav Ovadia (ibid.), that living by a host for a whole day makes it his effective home until he leaves. Much depends on one’s reading of the Biur Halacha 677:1. He says that one who eats a meal at a local friend should not light there, but if he is staying at his parents’ for all of Chanuka, he lights there even if he sometimes eats at home. The Acharonim differ about cases that are between these two extremes. By lighting on Friday at your parents’, you show you accept Rav Auerbach’s reading.
Rav Auerbach, though, posits (see Minchat Shlomo II, 58.2) that you can light at your parents’ only if you remain a half hour after lighting. That is because the lighting must be viable for a half hour. If one lights with less than a half hour of oil, the lighting is invalid (Shulchan Aruch, OC 675:2). Similarly, if one lights with the intention to extinguish the candles within a half hour, he does not fulfill the mitzva (Minchat Shlomo ibid.). Since once the person leaves his host, it is no longer his home and the lights are no longer connected to him, leaving within a half hour is equivalent to extinguishing them.
Rav Ovadia Yosef (ibid.) reasons that the various opinions depend on whether one’s place is determined by where he eats (i.e., at your parents’) or where he sleeps (at home, on Motzaei Shabbat), and he posits the latter. We usually assume this is a machloket between Ashkenazim (eat) and Sephardim (sleep) (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 677:1).
It seems to me that the two opinions are more a function of how important it is to light as soon as possible, as there is a correlation between that question and the view on your question. For example, Rav Auerbach puts great importance on lighting at the first opportunity (within 30 minutes). For example, although he regularly followed Rabbeinu Tam and did not do melacha until 72 minutes after sunset, he nevertheless was very careful to light on Motzaei Shabbat between 35 and 50 minutes after sunset (Halichot Shlomo, p. 312). Teshuvot V’hanhagot, as a contrasting example, treated lighting until 7:30 PM as not a problem and therefore, not surprisingly, expected a Shabbat guest to make it home to light by then.
Most people are not very careful (if there is a conflicting need) to light within a half hour of the starting time for lighting. If you fall into that group, we advise you to try to make it home relatively promptly (without being inappropriately hasty) after Shabbat and light at home. Otherwise, light at your parents’ and stay a half hour.