by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
May One Use Scented Candles for Chanukah Licht?
The answer is no – if the scent is the intention. The reason is that one may not benefit from the Chanukah candles.
But there is a case that is of great interest.
There was a Baal Teshuvah, whose wife was not yet on-board with matters of religious observance. When he asked his wife permission to light Chanukah candles, she did not respond positively.
“What kind of custom is this?”
“This is dangerous!”
“It will cause a fire!”
The husband responded, “I am not just lighting candles – I am lighting aromatic candles so that a good smell could permeate the house.”
The wife readily agreed.
The question is, however, does using a scented or aromatic candle violate the prohibition of deriving benefit from the Chanukah candles?
Prohibition of Deriving Benefit
It is forbidden to derive any benefit (hanaah) from the Chanukah lamps or candles. One cannot read next to them or use the light for any other purpose. There are two explanations given by teh Risonim for this prohibition of hanaah.
1) Rashi explains that everyone must see that these lights are only for one purpose — to publicize the miracle.
2) The Ran explains that since these lights commemorate the Menorah that was in the Beis HaMikdash, the same halachos which pertain to the items of the Beis HaMikdash still apply: Namely – no benefit may be derived from these items.
It seems, however, that the term “any benefit” is limited to that of visually benefitting as in use of the lights. The language of the Mishna Brurah (673:11) indicates this. One just cannot do a maaseh, an action with them, such as counting money in front of them.
In a Sefer entitled m’rayach nichoach (p. 162) Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s response to this very question posed by Rabbi Gamliel HaKohen Rabbinowitz is that it is permitted since it is a davar sh’ain miskavain. Similarly, Rav Ovadya Yoseph is also cited as permitting it (See Yalkut Yoseph p340). Finally, Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, in his new Sefer on Chanukah also permits it.
Musical Chanukah Candles
A few years ago, someone invented a Chanukah wick that was attached to a metallic device. When the device was heated through the hot wick, it sent a signal to a recording that played Maoz Tzur on a small speaker. The question was raised as to whether or not this constituted forbidden benefit from the Chanukah lights. At the time, this device was also permitted for the same reasoning (See Chashukei Chemed, Shabbos 22a).
What if there are no other candles except for a scented one? It would be permitted by the same reasoning.