Ah Freilichen Chanukah! But Aren’t We Still in Golus?


menorah1By S. Friedman, Matzav.com

Those who have been to Yerushalayim over Chanukah have seen the minhag that the people have, which is to light their menorahs outside their homes. The reason we do not do this in chutz la’aretz is because Chazal determined that in golus, amongst so many who hate us, we should not fuel the fire by conducting our celebrations so brazenly for all to see.

Chazal knew then what it meant to be in golus, and they had the foresight to know what golus would mean for future generations as well. Trying to reassess a situation that Chazal already dealt with – trying to update it, so to speak – is never a good idea.

A new “minhag” has been spreading rapidly over the years during Chanukah, and that is the “minhag” to light a large public display menorah, and with that, an overall public celebration of the chag.  This “minhag” was never endorsed by our venerated gedolim and poskim and has no basis in halacha. Yet, some Yidden feel the need to be ostentatious about Chanukah, perhaps trying to match the popularity of other holidays being celebrated by other cultures during this time. 

Here are some of the news headlines associated with this new trend:

            • Connecticut: Masked Men Disrupt Menorah Lighting With Nazi Flags, Obscenities

            • Chabad Shaliach Attacked During Candle Lighting in Vienna

            • Priest Leads Mob in Attacking Menorah in Moldova, Replaces it With Cross

            • Santa Cruz Requires Rabbi to Hire Guard to Watch Menorah

            • Vandals Damage Menorah On Long Island

            • Budapest: Neo-Nazis Disrupt Chanukah Event

Who needs this?  Why have some people amongst us gone to the trouble of attracting more attention and inevitably more hate to our little nation? Can’t we be happy in our own enclave observing the chag, like Sukkos or Shavuos, without trying to draw attention? 

We live in the most tolerant country in history, but trying to push our practices into the public conscience will not promote tolerance, only resentment. The masses have their holidays that they celebrate, and probably don’t want another religion’s holiday to “crash the party.” Nothing is owed to us by the secular society we live in, and when you see a store hanging a menorah display in front, wishing their customers a “Happy Hanukah,” that is either a graceful gesture or good marketing. But for our own people to make public displays of menorah lighting, and in some circumstances even demanding it from the local authorities, is of poor taste, and, as shown in the above cases, poor judgment as well.

{S. Friedman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Considering all the Anti Semitic attacks seen lately in Lakewood, I think following your logic it’s time to pack up and move out of here, no?
    Why not come out in the open and state you are envious of Chabad and their success?
    Frankly, Yesterday I watched online the Lubavitch Chabad Menorah lighting in Washington DC and cried from joy the whole time, seeing 1000s of Jews celebrating together in unity is sure to have made Hashem proud.
    It’s time we grow up and stop looking to bash everything another group does.

  2. The USA is golus. The mitzvo Aliyah must be a central component of yeshiva chinuch. It is a tragedy that it is not.

    Also, Chabad and others conduct these public events not to simply create a minhag for no reason but because these public events are proven to aid greatly in kiruv. There is an catastrophic Auschwitz of assimilation in golus. Even if all of these public events save only one precious Yiddishe Neshama this year — and they will surely help reach thousands — they should be support by the entire frum community.

    If you won’t do kiruv yourself that’s one thing – but don’t try & persuade others…

  3. I agree 100%. Well written article and kudos for publishing an article which although true, may not be PC.

    My Rosh Yeshiva, a very well known Gadol, once gave a shmuz in yeshiva (over 20 years ago) and decried the fact that those who demanded public menorahs on government property had tried to get around the separation of church and state by testifying in court that the menorah is not a religious symbol but a seasonal one. He was very disturbed that they were reducing hadlakas neiros to being equal in status to eating latkes.

    Another Gadol said many years ago that being that chazal were only mesaken hadlakas neiros in shul and at home but not in the town square, those who make a bracha on the public lighting are making a bracha l’vatala.

  4. um “Chazal determined ..” there is no such chazal. It is a remah, at any event the remah says in a dangerous situation… it is very hard to argue that currently in america we are in a “dangerous situation” Rather we maintain the minhag of moving it inside but there is no such chazal that you speak of.
    The comparison to sukkos and shavous is also silly, sice chanuka invovlves parsumei nisa.
    That being said the examples given is silly for another reason namely that there is no dira where the menorahs are lit. There is no mitzva to light candles in a public thouroghfare, and POSSIBLY involves bracha livatala.

  5. Here are some of the news headlines associated with this new trend:

    • Connecticut: Masked Men Disrupt Menorah Lighting With Nazi Flags, Obscenities

    • Chabad Shaliach Attacked During Candle Lighting in Vienna

    • Priest Leads Mob in Attacking Menorah in Moldova, Replaces it With Cross

    • Santa Cruz Requires Rabbi to Hire Guard to Watch Menorah

    • Vandals Damage Menorah On Long Island

    • Budapest: Neo-Nazis Disrupt Chanukah Event

    This article is both outdated and ludicrous:

    All of the instances of anti semitism listed in this article are from last year or previous years. The author in his blatant ignorance calls this a new minhag when in fact the Lubavitcher Rebbe spearheaded this minhag over 40 years ago.

    Perhaps, we should lose our golus attitude and we might merit to see the redemption. Too many people are serving G-d and learning Torah with a galus mentality losing sight of the prize that the aibershter wants us to yearn from.

    These wakeup calls that, “We are still in Galus sickens me. It shows an overall complacency to the fact that we are still exiled with bno interest to move on. Perhaps you should wakeup from your slumber and call from the depths of your heart for G-d to reveal himself lemattah Me’Asarah which is why the mitzvah of Chanukah calls for a low menorah.

    Quit your presumptuousness to claim then regarding the tall outright Menorahs in middle if the streets because most of them are under the halachik guidelines of twenty amos which permits a blessing.

    So instead of being so shortsighted and critical, maybe try to see the good in it and how many peoples lives have been infused with light which replaced the paralyzing, cold darkness which reigned before the ray of Jewish pride which crept in as a result of the mass gathering and the Kiddush Hashem and Mesiras Nefesh of the Shluchim who literally risk their lives for you despite your ungrateful and cavalier attitude towards them.

    On a more positive note, may you be impacted positively by the warm radiant lights of the Chanukah Menorah and may its true meaning and splendor fined its way through your heavy eyelids and open them to see things in a more positive light.

  6. To YG,
    If the “Galus mentality” sickens you, maybe you should see a doctor. Maybe all the Gedolim from previous generations (including Chazal & Yakov Avinu) knew something about the “Galus mentality” that you don’t. Contrary to what you may think, losing our “Galus mentality” will not merit redemption. Showing hachnaa for the Umos between whom we dwell (as Yakov Avinu did), most likely will.

  7. To all the ‘Brocho l’vatolo’ complainers:

    See “Teshuvos Oz Nidberu” from Rav Binyamin Zilber ZT’L (a venerated non-Chassidic posek who was not affiliated with Chabad) who defends the practice of making a brocho on public lightings…

  8. It’s amazing that you actually wrote and posted this useless article. You obviously have an issue with Chabad and their practices, don’t deny it.
    I am here today, a person who tries to devote his live to Hashem, because of Chabad, as my father became frum through their amazing, dedicated shluchim. These are people who devote their lives to bringing Jews closer to yiddishkeit. You’re familiar with that concept, right? I mean there are tons of kiruv organizations worldwide that are endorsed by Gedolim but yet you have an issue with Chabad who are on the forefront of kiruv.

    This isn’t about the public menorah’s which have inspired thousands of Jews to light and connect to this amazing Yom Tov that we are lucky to have. Stop with your criticism of people who do their work with tremendous Avodas Hashem. The Lubavitcher Rebbe told his Chasidim to spread the word of Chanukah around the world, so they are listening, how dare you question their devotion and how dare you blame them for Anti-Semitism. We are all Yidden, let’s stick together instead of criticizing.

  9. Great article, ???? ???, may ????? ???? ??? bless you for saying what has to be said, for giving the mainstream religious view about this new custom of one non-mainstream group that is skilled at PR.

  10. Rabbi Friedman,

    Perhaps the positive effects of these public menorah lightings out weigh the negative?

    I am sure that many have been inspired by the light of these menorahs.

  11. How dare you question the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach! The Rebbe instructed us to do it. Anyone that disagrees with the Rebbe is an Apikores. The Rebbe instituted the lighting of the Menora in the Sorbon university in Paris, and in Berlin university while he was studying there.

  12. regardless of critics, point is taken.

    Fact is we ARE IN GOLUS.

    our behaviour in golus is not to shove our religion in others faces. It is demand and be thankful that we keep it faithfully and quietly.

    If anyone learns a little halacha, lighting a 20 ft. menora is not what ‘pirsumei nisa’ means

  13. By Angie Valencia – LA Daily News

    AGOURA HILLS, CA — It was 20 years ago, recalled Rabbi Moshe D. Bryski, that a Holocaust survivor approached him as he lighted an eight-foot-tall menorah at a Thousand Oaks mall.

    His eyes fixed on the towering menorah, the man rolled up his sleeve and pointed to numbers tattooed on his arm from a concentration camp in Europe.

    “We’ve come a long way … a very long way,” the man murmured, breaking into tears.

    “From then on,” said Bryski, executive director of Chabad of the Conejo, “I decided to take advantage of that freedom to provide Judaism heritage and education to the next generation.”

  14. #8 is entirely correct. It is not wrong to rely on the klal that America is a safe country for religious expression without persecution. That being said, to cite incidents of anti-semitism is truly disingenuous. What Gedoilim said “years ago” may have been then. Today things are different. The Galus is deeper. We need more light beyond our own Daled Amos! These are not just cute concepts but spiritual ones. Gemorah Shabbos specifically states the Menorah should be “BA’CHUTZ” if not literally, at least facing the outdoors. The outdoors is the “Reshus Ha’Rabbim” with all its negative implications.That is why the Gemorah says “by the “left side of the door, facing the outdoors”. The left side means the side opposite the mezuzah which is on the right who’s purpose is to protect the “inside”. The “Left” is the spiritual source of evil. It is also the source of the “Negative Commandments” who’s purpose is to transform the darkness of the “Left” or the “Rabim” to the “Light” of the “Right”, through drawing down “Elokus” into this world. “Mitzvos Asei” have a different purpose. This is the spiritual source of lighting outdoors. The darker the “Outdoors” the more light is needed! So even if no one sees the Menorah to become inspired by it, it still serves its spiritual purpose of spreading light. There’s more to this story than just trying to inspire people, which in and of itself is truly impressive and also worthwhile goal.

  15. Bdidi Hava Uvdah- I know someone who saw a huge Menorah outside of the Landow Yeshiva in Miami Beach when he was a 14 year old teenager. This boy was from a “Conservative” background. The huge Menorah intrigued him…and inspired him to walk in to the Yeshiva. The Bochurim invited him for a Shabbos. One Mitzvah led to another, and gradually this teenager became a Shomer Shabbos.
    Fast Forward. Today this former teenager who was inspired by a huge Menorah outside of a Yeshiva is the administrator for the past 23 years of Chabad of South Broward in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Besides answering many kashrus questions from scores of people on a regular basis,( the laws of kashrus is a favorite by this Musmach) ,this individual, as Chabad’s administrator, greets hundreds of Litvishe and Chassiddishe Yidden every year who visit the Diplomat Hotel and elsewhere in the Hallandale/Hollywood area.
    These wonderful Yidden regularly use the Mikvaos, participate in Shiurim, and attend the Minyanim in the Shul where this individual serves as adminstrator.
    Do I know him? Yes, it is me!

  16. 1)if in a place where there is already tension, there definitely should not be a public lighting.

    2)to yankel, the rema got his ruling from chazal, why dont you go through the whole sugya. And even if it wasn’t a chazal but something he told you to do, I would listen, what about you???

  17. Aside from the Halachacly valid points already raised against making Brachos on these “monstrosoties” the wicks and indeed the entire flame has a din of a madurah-a torch, which invalidates the lighting.

  18. Keep venting guys!

    They may be ‘non-mainstream”non-halachic’ ‘similar to Judaism’ etc. etc., bottom line is they’re inspiring people to become better Jews while you’re busy blogging…

  19. shame that 10’s of yidden perished in a fire in eretz yisroel, on Chanukah! yet, we sit here and bicker about nonsense.

    For the gentleman who wrote this, im sure your intentions were just, but blatantly wrong.

  20. the main thing is, to score points “I’m Choshuv, You’re Not ” game.
    Winner wins a one-way trip to Lita.
    The Samech Mem knows that a Yid would never bother another Yid, so he conjures up a “LeShem Shomayim” to make it happen

  21. The hatred of Chabad is quite apparent in most of these comments. What amazes me, is that barely 2 years ago a terrible tragedy struck in Mumbai and kedosihim were murdered al kiddush Hashem most likely due to our sins of Sinas Chinam. Its quite obvious that all you ” leshem Shamayimniks” are desperate for another calamity to strike against us because of your lack of love to another type of Jew

  22. I believe that the fact that “some Yidden feel the need to be ostentatious about Chanukah, perhaps trying to match the popularity of other holidays being celebrated by other cultures during this time” is the core and crux of this matter.

    Hikui hagóyim is NOT the way to yeshuah and moshiach.

  23. YOU SEEM TO BE AGAINST LIGHTING PUBLIC MENORAS BUT NOT AGAINST IGNITING MACHLOIKES (if you really want to go there my big lamdan, you can find sources for not lighting in a SHUL either.if you want I can bring them.)# 14 you obviously don’t know what the word ehrlich is…

  24. s.friedman do u walk in gaulus with ur tzitzits out do u cover ur yarmulka with a hat do u shave ur beard. after arent we in goulos?????

  25. Thank you for writing this article. We see all over the country where the is a menorah put up by chabad there is a larger bush put up by the goiam next to it.
    The rebbonim are afraid to come out aainst this foreign minhig by chabad for fear of being harrassed by chabad.
    We do not have to flaunt our religion.

  26. #15 where in “a little halacha” is there a problem with lighting a 20 ft. menorah and pirsumei nisa?You should have said 20 AMOS which is about 30 ft.
    Now where do you or your friends who live on the second flr. light the menorah- and why?

  27. Every Yid has the right, the obligation to listen to his Rov, Rebbe or Rosh Yeshiva, what he does not have is the right to denegrate others peoples Moreh Derech.
    The Lubavitcher Rebbe of Righteous Memory was a Tzadik amongsts Tzadikim and encouraged his Chassidim to Lights menorahs where ever a Yid is found.
    This year this is occuring in thousands of communities throughout the world.
    Let there be an increase in the Light of Torah and the Warmth of Mitzvos.
    The Golus will come to an end when Ahavas Chinam take control of Am Yisroel.

  28. Perhaps check for the real reason we are in golus. Lets keep up Ahvas Chinum not the opposite, especially when there are mekros in Torah for what they do.

    A Frelichin Chanukah

  29. The author wants us all to hide under our blankets in order not to cause Anti Semitism.

    Hmmm… What is his REAL agenda???

  30. I still remember when the shliach in Seattle, Washington threatended to SUE to Seattle Airport for taking down a Menorah, about 3 years ago.

  31. This article makes a good point. There is no reason to put on these displays.

    To the people who think USA is golus or this or that place is golus, you are TOTALLY LOST! Golus is when we don’t have the Beis Hamikdosh, it is not a place! And yes, R”L we ARE in golus. And the state of Israel is the darkest part of golus. Moshiach now!