ARCHIVES: HILCHOS CHANUKAH
BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST, INCLUDING THE DATES ON WHICH THEY WERE SENT, EXACTLY AS THEY WERE SENT.
Halachos for Sunday , November 23 , 2014
The Talmud asks the following question: "Mai Chanukah, What is Chanukah"?
Rashi explains the Gemara's question to mean, "Due to which miracle was the Yom Tov of Chanukah instituted?"
The Gemara goes on to answer the question as follows: On the 25th day of Kislev begin the eight days of Chanukah. It is prohibited to eulogize anyone on these days and it is prohibited to fast on these days.
When the Greeks entered the Bais HaMikdash they [handled all the vessels and touched and] made all the oil [that was used to light the menorah] impure. When the Chashmonaim (sometimes referred to as the Maccabees) overpowered the Greek army and won the war they searched the entire Bais HaMikdash and were only able to find one small jug of pure oil [with the seal of the Kohen Gadol on it].
There was only enough oil in this jug to light the menorah for one day. However, a miracle occurred and the small amount of oil was sufficient to light the menorah for eight days (until they were once again able to purify themselves and produce more oil).
The following year, beginning on 25 Kislev, the Chachamim instituted an eight day Yom Tov (which we refer to as Chanukah) dedicated to Halel (praise) and Hoda'ah (Thanks) [to Hashem]. (Talmud Shabbos 21b, also brought in the Tur beginning of Hilchos Chanukah)
1) According to many Rishonim there is no requirement to have a Seudah (festive meal) on Chanukah, and any Seudah that is made is a Seudas Reshus (non obligatory meal).
Others argue and maintain that there is indeed a requirement to have a Seudah, with bread, on Chanukah.
The prevalent minhag when having a Seudah on Chanukah is to sing Shiros V'Tishbachos (praises) to Hashem and/or talk Divrei Torah, thus making it a Seudas Mitzvah according to all opinions.
2) It is customary to eat foods made with cheese on Chanukah in commemoration of the miracle of Yehudis' slaying of the Greek general Heliphornius which is considered one of the miracles of Chanukah, in which cheese played a role. (See Ram"a Siman 670:2 and Mishna Berura S"K 10. for more on the story. )
Halachos for Monday , November 24 , 2014
1) The Minhag is that women do not do "Melacha" (work or chores) for the first thirty minutes after the Chanukah menorah is lit.
Some have this Minhag on each of the eight nights of Chanukah(Shibolei HaLeket).
Others have this Minhag only on the first and last night of Chanukah (Shiltei Giborim, Kol Bo, MaHaril and others)
According to some opinions, the type of "Melacha" that the women shouldn't do is any "Melacha" that is prohibited on any other Yom Tov (Levush, Bach, Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal and others).
According to other opinions, only Melachos that women refrain from doing on Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed are prohibited, such as sewing, laundry, ironing etc., but baking, cooking etc. is allowed. (Moed L'Kol Chai, Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal, Debreciner Rav in Be'er Moshe, Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita in the name of his father the Steipler Zatzal)
2) Some Poskim maintain that the minhag not to do Melacha applies to men as well. (Elya Rabba's understanding of the MaHaril, Bach and a few others).
Most Poskim however, maintain that this is a special Minhag for women only, as they had particularly harsh decrees targeting them ,namely that all Jewish brides were required to spend the night with the Greek general before being allowed to get married, and the women had a special part in the miracle of Chanukah. (referring to the story of Yehudis who slayed the Greek general, before he was able to defile her and through her heroic actions, the decree was abolished. See Tosafos Pesachim 108b D"H HaYu B'Oso Ha'Nes. See also Rashi Shabbos 21b D"H V'Asum that there is no Issur Melacha on Chanukah)
Halachos for Tuesday , November 25 , 2014
1) During Chanukah it is proper to strengthen ourselves in the areas of learning Torah, Davening (prayer) and Gemilas Chasadim(acts of kindness). ( See Pri Megadim Siman 670 at length for a fascinating explanation how the Greeks were trying to prevent the Jews from upholding the three pillars of the world: Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasadim and thus we need to intensify our efforts precisely in these areas.)
2) It is customary to give extra Tzedaka on the days of Chanukah, especially to support poor people who spend their lives dedicated to learning Torah. (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and Magen Avraham.)
The Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avodah (Sha'ar 12:1) expounds on this, based on the Zohar Hakadosh and the Kisvei Ha'Arizal, that one who is lax in giving of Tzedakah all year round can rectify the harm this laxity caused by increasing his/her Tzedakah on Chanukah, especially if giving to support those who learn Torah.
Halachos for Wednesday , November 26 , 2014
1) All Jews are obligated in the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles.
This applies to men, women and children (who have reached the age of Chinuch; approximately 5 or 6 years of age), as all Jews were saved in the miraculous victory of the Macabbees over the mighty Greek army. (Additionally, as we discussed in the previous Halachos, women are specifically obligated in the Mitzvos of Chanukah, due to their being saved from the harsh decrees levied against them, via the heroic act of Yehudis, a woman)
2) The prevalent Minhag is for the male head of household to exempt all the female members of the house (adults and children alike), through the lighting of his menorah.(Amongst Sephardim, the head of household exempts everyone in the house, even other males)
The females being exempted should make sure to be present and listen to the recital of the Brachos [and answer Amen] while the menorah is kindled.(Mishna Berurah Siman 675:9)
Of course, if no man is available to exempt her, a women may light [and make the blessings over] her own menorah. A woman can also exempt other people with her lighting, when no man is available to do this. (See Smag Hilchos Chanukah, Taz 675:3, Magen Avraham ibid.)
[Ashkenazic] Boys who have reached the age of Chinuch should preferably light their own menorahs [with all the Halachic details involved] and not rely on the head of the household's lighting.(Ram'a 675:3. See also Mishna Berura and Biur Halacha ibid. Dibur Hamaschil U'Ldidan, regarding if there is a Mitzvah of Chinuch for "Hidur Mitzvah" or just for the "letter of the law" and thus children would only have to light one candle per night.)
Halachos for Thursday , November 27 , 2014
1)The ideal time to light the Chanukah Menorah is between "sunset" and the time that people are no longer in the street.(Talmud Shabbos 21b)
The Rishonim debate what "sunset" in this case means, as the setting of the sun is divided into 3 time periods.
2) The three times [for lighting the Menorah] are:
a) As soon as the sun begins setting, though it is still very light outside.(Opinion of the Rambam, Mordechai, Rav Hai Gaon)
b) The beginning of the sun's actual setting, when it is starting to get dark already [approximately 20-40 minutes after "sunset"] (Opinion of the Rashba, Ran, Meiri, Ritva[though the Ritva allows lighting at the earlier time of sunset as well])
c) The end of Sunset, which is referred to as "Tzais HaKochavim- when 3 stars are visible in the sky". (Opinion of Tosefos, Manhig, The Rosh, Tur, Terumas HaDeshen)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , November 28 , 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) There are many different opinions amongst the Poskim as far as which of the opinions regarding Shkiah is best to follow.
Many people [especially in the United States of America] follow the minhag of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal who lit the Menorah approximately 10 minutes after Sunset. (Based on the Opinion of the Gaon of Vilna in Biur HaGr"a Orach Chaim Siman 672. There is a contradictory Biur HaGr"a in Yoreh Deah Siman 266:17 who seems to say that the best time to light is at "Tzeis Hakochavim- when the stars appear" which is definitely later than 10 minutes after sunset. See Sefer Moadim U'Zmanim from Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita, Vol. 2 Siman 154 how he deals with this apparent contradiction). This was also the minhag of Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal.
Many people [especially in Eretz Yisrael] follow the minhag of the Chazon Ish Zatzal to wait an additional 10 minutes, and light only 20 minutes after sunset. This was also the Minhag of the Steipler Zatzal.
2) The Minhag of Rav Ahron Kotler Zatzal was to light 25-30 minutes after sunset. This is the prevalent minhag of Talmidim of Bais Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ.
Many people follow various other minhagim, and each person should adopt the custom of their own family, or consult a Rav if no custom is in place.
Even those who follow the Gr"a and light at the earliest time, should make sure there is enough oil (or the candles be long enough) to burn until a half hour past "Tzeis HaKochavim". (Psak of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, quoted in Sefer Yemei Halel V'Hodaah)
Halachos for Shabos Kodesh
1) It is forbidden to utilize the "light" of the Chanukah candles for any purpose. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 673)
This applies to all the candles that were kindled for that night, even though the extra candles are only for "Hiddur Mitzvah- beautification of the Mitzvah",e.g. on the fifth night, one may not "use" any of the 5 candles, even though Min HaDin only one candle must be kindled each night. (Be'er Heitev ibid.)
The "uses" that are prohibited include mundane uses such as counting money by the lights of the menorah, as well as holy purposes, such as davening or learning via the light of the menorah.
2) Some opinions allow using the light of the menorah for holy purposes (opinion of the Ba'al HaItur and other Rishonim, brought in the Tur), but the consensus of virtually all Poskim, and the prevalent practice, is to prohibit even holy uses. (Magen Avraham, Levush, Elya Rabbah, Aruch HaShulchan etc.)
It is for this reason that the widespread minhag is to add an extra candle, known as the "Shamash" to the menorah each night, this way when/if you "use" the light of the menorah it will be the light of that candle that we are using and not the lights of the menorah.
The "Shamash" should be placed a little higher than the other candles so it should be evident that it isn't one of the "Mitzvah candles". (Based on Rama Siman 671:2)
The custom is that all the menorahs that are being lit should have their own "shamash", even if there is other light in the room.
(See See Shulchan Aruch Siman 671:5 and Mogen Avraham there)
Halachos for Sunday , November 30 , 2014
1) Many otherwise righteous Jews have a "custom" to play "Kvitlach", a gambling card game on Chanukah (a poker type game).
It isn't clear exactly where this minhag came from or how it developed, but it isn't a Minhag Tov, rather a sinful expression of "empty partying" that has replaced the "Shiros V'Tishbachos, praising of Hashem that used to (and still should) characterize Chanukah celebrations, and one who values his/her soul should avoid these card games at all costs. (Biur Halacha Siman 670)
2) Those who play "Kvitlach"on Chanukah will be punished severely in the next world, as many other Aveiros, sins, are inevitably involved whenever these card games take place (gambling, stealing, Nivul Peh, Bitul Torah, Prikus Ol, Lashon Hara, [as well as lack of Tzniyus, Histaklus B'Arayos etc. when there are men and women involved in the same game, Chas V'Shalom] just to name a few).
One who has the capacity to stop these games from taking place and discontinue this sinful practice will be greatly rewarded in the next world (Aruch HaShulchan Siman 670:9. See also Yesod V'Shoresh Ha'Avodah Sha'ar 12: end of Perek 1)
If you have been invited to participate in such a game, it would be best to cancel and let them know that you won't be attending.
Although this may be a difficult decision and one that may cause you embarrassment and "hard feelings", it is the right decision and one that a G-d fearing Jew must make.
The Mishna in Pirkei Avos teaches us that "L'Fum Tzaarah Agrah- the more painful a [right] decision is to make, the greater the heavenly rewards".
Halachos for Monday , December 1 , 2014
1)When lighting the Chanukah menorah on the first night of Chanukah, three Brachos must be recited, as follows:
1st Bracha:"Baruch Ata Hashem...Asher Kidshanu B'Mitzvosav V'Tzeevanu L'Hadlik Ner Shel Chanukah- Blessed are You Hashem...Who commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light". (The Arizal, Bais Yosef, Gaon of Vilna and others had the custom to say "L'Hadlik Ner Chanukah" and omitted the word "Shel". A Third Nusach exists as well where the words "Shel" and "Chanukah" are combined into one word: "SheliChanukah". This was the Minhag of the MaHarshal,The Chazon Ish and others)
2nd Bracha: "Baruch Ata Hashem...SheAsa Nisim L'Avoseinu BaYomim Hahem, Bazman Hazeh- Blessed are You Hashem...Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days, in this time[of the year]". (This blessing may be recited by a Ger, a convert to Judaism, even though the miracle didn't occur to his/her ancestors. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura based on the Rambam. However, if the convert so desires he/she may say "SheAsah Nisim L'Yisroel- Who performed miracles for the Jews")
3rd Bracha: "Baruch Ata Hashem...SheHechiyanu V'KiYimanu V'HigiYanu Lazman Hazeh- Blessed are You Hashem...Who allowed us to live and survive and reach this point in time".
On the subsequent 7 nights of Chanukah, only the first two Brachos are recited, while "SheHechiyanu" is not .
2) All the aforementioned blessings must be recited before the actual kindling of the menorah. The lighting should not be commenced before all three (on the first night) or both (on the subsequent nights) of the Brachos have been completed. (Ram'a Siman 676:2. There are opinions that maintain that the second Bracha is recited before lighting the "additional candle" each night, but the prevalent Minhag is like the Ram'a, which is based on the Me'iri in Maseches Shabbos)
Halachos for Tuesday , December 2 , 2014
1) For the duration of Chanukah, the Bracha of "Al HaNisim", thanking Hashem for the many miracles He performed for the Jews in their battles against the Greeks etc., is added to Shemona Esrei .
It is inserted in the Bracha of Modim (as it is a Bracha of thanks, as is Modim).
Similarly, whenever we say Birchas Hamazon on Chanukah, we add the "Al HaNisim" immediately following the Bracha of "Nodeh Lecha", which is also a Bracha of thanks to Hashem.
Many people have the custom to say "V'Al HaNisim- "and" on these miracles we thank you Hashem..." rather than simply "Al HaNisim- On these miracles..." as it's a continuation of the Bracha of thanks (in both Shemona Esrei and Birchas Hamazon) and not a new topic. (Mishna Berura 682:1. See also Yesod V'Shoresh HaAvodah Sha'ar 12 Perek 1 for a lengthier elaboration on the proper thoughts to have in mind while saying "V'Al HaNisim")
2) Even those who normally daven Shemona Esrei and say Birchas Hamazon by heart, should try and use a siddur [at least] on [the first day] Chanukah, as not doing so will probably result in forgetting to recite the "Al HaNisim". (See Mishna Berura Siman 100:1)
Halachos for Wednesday , December 3 , 2014
1) On all 8 days of Chanukah, the complete Halel is recited following Shacharis. The Bracha of "Baruch Ata Hashem...Likro Es Hahalel" is recited before the recitation of the Halel.
There is no Tefilas Mussaf on Chanukah (besides for Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos), as there was no special Mussaf offering on Chanukah in the Bais HaMikdash.
2) If one is in middle of Halel, and hears a Bracha or Kedusha, he/she has the status as if they were in the middle of Birchos Krias Shema.
Thus, in middle of a chapter, one may only interrupt for "Amen YeHei Shemei Rabbah", "Amen" of "D'Amiran B'Alma V'Imru Amen", the verses "Kadosh" and "Baruch" in Kedusha, The "Amen" of " HaKel HaKadosh" and the "Amen" of " ShoMea Tefilah".
If one is between 2 chapters, he/she may answer "Amen" to all Brachos. (We discussed these Halachos more at length in Hilchos Tefilah: Halachos of Krias Shema. See Archives Here)
Halachos for Thursday , December 4 , 2014
1)There are differing opinions amongst the Poskim whether women are obligated in saying Halel on Chanukah.
The accepted Minhag [among Ashkenazic women] is that, although they are most probably not obligated as it is a "Mitzvas Asei SheHazman Grama- a Mitzvah that is bound by time", the women do in fact recite Halel, with a Bracha, on each of the 8 days of Chanukah, as they were also part of the Chanukah miracle. (See Biur Halacha Siman 422:2. See also Moadim U'Zemanim Siman 146)
2) The Sephardic Minhag is that women do not recite blessings when they perform any [non obligatory] "Mitzvos Asei SheHazman Gerama", therefore women who follow the Sephardic customs should not recite the blessing on the Halel on Chanukah [or anytime], but are praised if they do recite the Halel [without a blessing] , and are encouraged to do so. (Shu"t Yabia Omer from Rav Ovadia Yoseph Zatzal, Vol. 6 Siman 46)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , December 5 , 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) When davening in a Bais HaAvel (a house where mourners are sitting Shiva) there is a dispute about how to proceed with Halel.
Some Poskim maintain that Halel isn't recited at all in that house; rather the individuals should recite it when they leave the Avel's home.
Others maintain that Halel should be recited, but the Avel himself should refrain from joining the minyan in its recitation.
Others allow the Avel to recite Halel.
2) The prevalent Minhag is for the Avel [or the Tzibbur] to go to another room and not say the Halel in the presence of the Avel.(See Pri Chadash Siman 422 and Siman 683.)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1)There are different opinions amongst the Poskim if the Mishnayos of Perek "BaMeh Madlikin" which are usually said each Friday night before Maariv , are said on Shabbos of Chanukah.
One of the reasons given for not saying it is because these Mishnayos discuss the many types of oils which aren't acceptable for lighting the Shabbos candles. The Talmud (Shabbos 21b) says that the oils that are not good for Shabbos lights are indeed acceptable for Chanukah candles.
Therefore, according to these opinions, we don't want people to think we are referring to the Halachos of the Chanukah candles, so we refrain from saying "BaMeh Madlikin" altogether. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 270:2 and Ram"a and Mishna Berura ibid.)
Many Minhagim exist regarding this, and each Kehilah should follow their individual practice.
2) There is a Minhag to say the Mizmor of "Mizmor Shir Chanukas HaBayis L'Dovid" (Tehillim 30) each morning of Chanukah after Shacharis.
Some have the minhag to say it "instead" of the regular Shir Shel Yom (SheYarei Kneses Hagedolah quoting the "Minhag" of many places, Pri Chadash, and Gaon of Vilna [besides for Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh of Chanukah, when he holds only the Shabbos or Rosh Chodesh Mizmor is said.])
Others maintain that both the regular Shir Shel Yom is said, as well as the additional Mizmor for Chanukah. (ShYarei Kneses Hagedolah's own Psak, quoted in the Be'er Heitev Siman 132:7 and others)
Each Kehilah should do according to the Minhagim they follow.
Halachos for Sunday , December 7 , 2014
1) It is very common for people to "go away" for Shabbos Chanukah, and move into their parents, in-laws, friends or other houses that aren't their own. This of course presents various different Halachic questions in regard to where to light the Chanukah menorah on Friday night as well as on Motzaei Shabbos.
One who is a guest in someone else's home, even for one day, must light Chanukah candles in that home, provided that he will be eating in the home as well as spending the night sleeping there. (Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. See also Chayei Adam Klal 154:32)
Therefore, the menorah should be lit Friday afternoon in the home where you will be spending Shabbos.
2) If when Shabbos is over you are still in your host's home, and you are planning to stay there for a while, it is best to light alongside the host right after Shabbos at the proper time, and not wait until you get back to your home, even though you will indeed be going home and sleeping in your own house.
If however, you plan to leave for home right away, and if you light in the host's home, you will not be there for a full half hour after the lighting, it is best not to light until you get to your own home. (Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal. His reasoning is that if you leave before half an hour, and thus the house is no longer considered your house, it may be like one who lit a menorah with not enough oil to last half an hour, in which case you haven't satisfied your obligation. See Halichos Shlomo Perek 14 Ha'arah 37)
Halachos for Monday , December 8 , 2014
1) When Rosh Chodesh Teves falls out on Shabbos Chanukah the Birchas Hamazon is very lengthy, as "Retzei", "Ya'aleh V'Yavo" and " Al HaNisim" are added.
If Al Hanisim is inadvertently omitted from Birchas Hamazon, it isn't repeated.
If "Retzei" or "Yaaleh V'yavo" [in certain cases on Shabbos] is omitted, the Birchas Hamazon is repeated.
2) There is a dispute in the Poskim regarding one who omitted Al Hanisim (which doesn't necessitate repeating the Birchas hamazon) and also omitted Retzei (which does necessitate repeating the Birchas Hamazon).
Some Poskim maintain that when you repeat the Birchas Hamazon you do not say Al Hanisim (Magen Avraham 188:13, Elya Rabbah, Shulchan Aruch Harav 188:4 and others)
Others maintain that once you are repeating the Birchas Hamazon already, you need to also include the Al Hanisim (Pri Megadim, Chayei Adam Klal 154:39, Sha'ar HaTzion 188:21 and others)
It is best to try and not to forget, as it isn't clear which of the above opinions the Halacha follows. (See also Shu"t Har Tzvi Orach Chaim Vol.1 Siman 54)
Halachos for Tuesday, December 9 , 2014
1) The Bracha on "Latkes- those delicious potato pancakes that are traditionally eaten on Chanukah" which are made from grated potatoes is "Borei pri Ho'Adama" as usually one can still recognize the potatoes.
2) However if the potatoes were blended so finely that they aren't recognizable as potatoes, the Bracha recited on them is "SheHakol NihYoh B'Devaro".
The same Halacha applies to potato kugel. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Zatzal)
Halachos for Wednesday, December 10 , 2014
1) If one forgot to recite the Bracha of Shehechiyanu on the first night of Chanukah, he recites it during the lighting of the second night of Chanukah. (Shilchan Aruch Siman 676:1)
If he forgot on the second night as well, he recites it on the third night, and so on, as it is to be recited one time during the lighting of the Menorah on Chanukah. (ibid.)
2) An Avel (mourner) may recite the bracha of Shehechiyanu when lighting the menorah in his home, but not when lighting in the Beis Hakneses. (See Mishna Berura Siman 671 S"K 44)
Halachos for Thursday , December 11 , 2014
1) Someone who, for whatever reason, will not be able to light his own Menorah, and nobody will be lighting on his behalf in his home, recites a bracha upon seeing any lit menorah that somebody else kindled.
2) On the first night of Chanukah he should recite two brachao, She'Asah Nisim and SheHechiyanu, and on the subsequent nights he should only recite one bracha, She'Asah Nisim. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 676: 3 and Mishna Berura S"K 6)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , December 12 , 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) A Menorah is lit in the Beis Hakneses for the purposes of Pirsumei Nisa, broadcasting the miracles, and all the brachos that are recited at home are also recited by the Chazan for this lighting. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 671:7)
2) This lighting does not exempt the home lighting, as it was instituted as its own separate obligation, and the one who lit the Menorah in Shul, subsequently lights a Menorah at home and repeats all the brachos. (Rama ibid. Mishna Berura S"K 45 rules that if one lit in Shul on the first night, saying all 3 brachos, he repeats all 3 brachos again at home, provided that he is exempting his wife or others at home. If there is nobody else at home that he is exempting, then indeed, he does not repeat Shehechiyanu, and rather he lights with the first 2 brachos only. )
The proper time for lighting the Menorah in Shul is between Mincha and Ma'ariv, a time when people are congregated in Shul and thus will see it. (Rama ibid.)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is proper for there to be at least a minyan of 10 people in the Shul during the lighting of the menorah. If no minyan is present, though, many Poskim allow it to be lit with the brachos even without a Minyan. (See Biur Halacha Siman 671 Dibur hamaschil V'Yesh Nohagin L'Hadlik. According to some Poskim, including Shu"t Rav Pe'alim Siman 62, these 10 people may include women as well.)
Some congregations have the custom to also light a Menorah in shul before Shacharis; this is done without any brachos being recited. (See pri Megadim; Aishel Avrohom, Siman 670:2 and Shu"t Binyan Shlomo Siman 53)
2) A shul that has many minyanim for Ma'ariv should ideally put in enough oil, or use long enough candles, that the menorah should remain lit from after Mincha until after the final minyan for Ma'ariv. (Psak of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita quoted in Sefer Yemei Halel V'Hoda'ah page 299)
Halachos for Sunday , December 14 , 2014
1) The ideal thing (Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar) to use for the Mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah is olive oil, and not other oils or wax candles. (Rama Siman 673:1)
The reason for this is that the miracle in the Bais Hamikdash happened via olive oil. (See Mishna Berura Siman 673 S"K 4. See also Shl"a Hakadosh, Maseches Tamid, Ner Mitzvah 1 and Ramban beginning of Parshas B'Ha'alosecha, the correlation between the kindling of the Menorah of Chanukah and the kindling of the menorah in the Bais Hamikdash)
2) If someone only has a limited amount of olive oil and will only be able to light one light each night of Chanukah and not increase the proper amount on each subsequent night of Chanukah, it is better to use wax candles and light the proper amount of lights each night. (See Mishna Berura Siman 671 S"K 7. See also Sha'ar Hatziyun Os 8 that on the first night he should still use the olive oil.)
Halachos for Monday , December 15 , 2014
1) The candles of the Menorah must be in a straight line, one next to another, and not haphazardly laid out and not in a circle.(Rama Siman 671:4)
2) The reason for this is that it should not seem like one large flame and should be easily discernible how many lights have been kindled each night.
Halachos for Tuesday, December 16 , 2014
1) It is not necessary to switch the wicks on each night of Chanukah, as the wicks may be re-used on each subsequent night, and actually burn better this way. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 673:4 and Mishna Berura S"K 31)
2) However, some people have the custom to indeed replace the burnt out wicks with new wicks for each night's lighting, as a commemoration of the menorah in the Bais Hamikdash, which required new wicks each day. (Darchei Moshe Siman 673 quoting the Abudreham. See also Meiri Maseches shabbos Perek 2. Most Poskim, however, do not mention this and indeed the prevalent ruling and custom is not to insist on new wicks)
Halachos for Wednesday, December 17 , 2014
1) Once the Chanukah Menorah is lit, there is no halachic obligation to sit by the candles for half an hour, or any length of time. As long as there is enough oil (or a long enough candle) to burn for the right amount of time, you have satisfied the Mitzvah.
2) However, many people do indeed have a custom to sit by the Menorah for half an hour and learn, pray or sing Chanukah songs or otherwise occupy themselves with Chanukah related subjects, and this is indeed a praiseworthy minhag.(See Mekor Chaim, from the Nesivos, Siman 672)
Halachos for Thursday , December 18 , 2014
1) When people get together on Chanukah for parties, Mesibos, at a wedding, or any other gatherings, many have the custom to light a Menorah there as an expression of Pirsumei Nisa.
2) According to many poskim, no bracha is recited on this lighting, even if ma'ariv is being davened at the gathering, as the Takana (enactment) of Chazal was only to light in the home and in the Bais Haknesses, and not in any other places, even if there is a large crowd there. (Ruling of Maran Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Zatzal, quoted in Shu"t Yad Nosson Siman 85. See also Shu"t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 3 Siman 65 and Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 15 Siman 30 and Vol. 22 Siman 37, Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 398)
Some Poskim are lenient and allow a bracha to be recited on public lightings, especially if some people in the crowd may not have been yotzi the Mitzvah in their own homes. If relying on this ruling, it is surely best to include a minyan of Ma'ariv immediately after the lighting. (See Shu"t Az Nidberu Vol. 5 Siman 37, Shu"t Yabia Omer Vol. 7 Siman 57)
For Halacha L'ma'aseh, of course, a Rav must be consulted.
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , December 19 , 2014
Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) If "Al Hanisim" was omitted from its proper place in Shemona Esrei, it should be inserted into the Tefilah of Elokai Netzor, at the conclusion of Shemona Esrei, before the words "Yihyu L'Ratzon" are recited, as a Bakasha, a request.
2) The text of this request should be as follows: "Harachaman Hu Ya'aseh Lanu Nisim V'Niflaos, K'shem She'asisa L'Avoseinu Bayamim HaHem Bazman Hazeh., The Merciful One should perform miracles for us just as He has performed miracles for our forefathers in those days in this time period".
The entire text of the "B'Yemei Mattisyahu..." should then be recited. (See Mishna berura Siman 682 S"K 4)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) If "Al Hanisim" was omitted from its proper place in Birchas Hamazon, it should be inserted into the Harachaman requests, at the conclusion of Birchas hamazon, using the same aforementioned text. (Rama Siman 682:1)
2) Tachanun is not recited for the duration of Chanukah, As well, Kail Erech Apayim, and Lamnatzeiach are omitted on Chanukah, and Tzidkascha Tzedek is omitted by Mincha on Shabbos Chanukah. (Rama Siman 683)
1) There's an accepted custom to give Chanukah Gelt (money) to children, as well as to [poor] Talmidei Chachamim on Chanukah. (See Mo'ed L'Kol Chai 27:77 for a Kabalistic approach to this. Some base this on the Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah Perek 3 Halcha 3) who rules that there is a mitzvah of Simcha on Chanukah, and by Yom Tov the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov Perek 6 Halacha 18) the Rambam includes gifts as a means of achieving Simcha)
2) In some circles there is a minhag to give "Chanukah Gelt" specifically only on the 5th day of Chanukah.
This was the minhag of the Steipler Zatzal, and his son, Maran Harav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, explained that the 5th day of Chanukah is the only night that can never fall out on Shabbos.
Maran Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita gave an additional source for this custom as follows: It is a Mitzvah to increase giving of Tzedakah on Chanukah (As we previously mentioned; See Yesod V'Shoresh H'Avodah Sha'ar 12:1 who expounds on this) They used to send money to the poor people of the city via the children. Thus, as a small reward for this the children received a small amount of Gelt as well, and thus developed the Minhag. (quoted in the Divrei Siach weekly gilyon, Parashas Vayeishev 5781)
Incidentally, the Steipler only gave Chanukah Gelt to his single children and grandchildren and not to those that were already married.(See Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 3)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) If one see that after lighting the Menorah, their cups are running low on oil and will not last for the full 1/2 hour, it will not help to add oil to the cup, after it was already lit.
2) If indeed it wasn't enough oil to last half an hour he was not Yotzei and he must relight it, without a bracha this time, with enough oil to last at least half an hour. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 675:2 and Mishna Berura S"K 8.)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) Oil that was used for the lighting of the Menorah, that was left over on the eighth day of Chanukah, should be burned, as it may not be used for any other purpose. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 677:3)
This only applies to the oil that was needed for the fulfillment of the mitzvah, i.e. that which was needed for the initial half hour of burning. Any additional oil beyond that amount does not need to be burnt. (See Mishna Berura Siman 677 S"K 18)
It is best to specifically have in mind that any oil leftover beyond the necessary half hour of the Mitzvah should not become "Mitzvah oil", as some Poskim don't automatically give the additional oil that leniency. (See Mishna Berura ibid.)
Unused oil that is left in the container, which was never poured into the menorah, is totally permitted, according to everyone. (See Biur Halacha Siman 677:4 Dibur Hamaschil Hatzarich)
2) The leftover oil that must be burned should ideally be burned right away, though some people wait until Erev Pesach and burn it with the Chometz. (See Mishna Berura Siman 677 S"K 19 that it should not be held on to until the next Chanukah either. See also Piskei Teshuvos Siman 677:9)