Which comes first this Motzoei Shabbos, menorah or Havdalah?
A. There is a dispute among the poskim concerning this question. Normally, in selecting the sequence of two mitzvos we are guided by the principle of tadir v’she’eino tadir – tadir kodem (the more frequent mitzvah is performed first). As such, the Taz (681:1) rules that Havdalah is recited first because it is the more frequently performed mitzvah. The Beiur Halacha (ibid.) quotes many acharonim who agree with the Taz including the Maharal MiPrague, the Tosfos Yom Tov and the Pri Chodosh. This was also the custom of the Chazon Ish (Sefer Hilchos Chanukah, p.44 footnote 46). However, the Mechaber and the Rama (681:2), followed by the Magen Avraham, Eliyahu Raba and Gra (see Beiur Halacha ibid.), maintain that Ner Chanukah comes first. Their rationale is that delaying the departure of Shabbos is more important than the principle of tadir. A second reason to prioritize Chanukah is that one performs Pirsumei Nisa (publicizing the miracle) with the kindling of the Chanukah lights.
In Shul, the accepted minhag is to light Chanukah lights first (Mishna Berura and Beiur Halacha, ibid.). Possibly, this is because the great Pirsumei Nisa for an entire shul is very significant (see Aruch HaShulchan 681:2). At home one should follow his own minhag since there is a valid basis for both viewpoints (MB and BH, ibid.). If one has no minhag, he can choose what to do since both are valid minhagim (see end of Beiur Halacha, ibid., in the name of the Pri Megodim).
It should be noted that one is prohibited from doing any melachah after Shabbos, even if Shabbos has concluded, until he recites Ata Chonantanu in Shmoneh Esrei. If he forgot to say Ata Chonantanu, he should say the words ‘baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol’ before lighting (MB 681:2).
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