During the Yom Kippur War, the grandson of Rav Frank – the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, was asked whether the IDF soldiers could light Channukah candles in the field. He answered as follows (Rav Frank’s Mikra’ei Kodesh – Channukah: 18, note 3):
I was asked a question about lighting Channukah candles with regard to soldiers who are stationed at the front…I responded that those who were sleeping in covered tents…could light candles, but the soldiers who were in the trenches without any cover…which is not considered to be a house at all, cannot light there.
Rav Frank’s grandson permitted the soldiers who were in tents to light Channukah candles, but forbade the soldiers in the field, who did not have tents, from lighting Channukah candles. I have also been asked this question many times by soldiers, and my answer is that they should light without a bracha. Why? After all, although sometimes there are technical difficulties in lighting candles in these areas, there are solutions – such as lighting in cans etc. If so, why not light Channukah candles?
Rav Charlap, Rav Kook’s student, explains why a house is needed for lighting Channukah candles (Mo’adei HaRayah pg. 166). In his opinion, lighting Channukah candles is meant to resemble lighting the Menorah in the Beit HaMikdash. The difference is, that as opposed to the lighting in the Beit HaMikdash which could only be performed by the Kohanim, on Channukah we are all Kohanim! On Channukah we are all given the unique privilege to illuminate this special light, to illuminate the light of Hashem. The candle lighting is performed inside the home, which is similar to the Menorah lighting that was performed inside the Beit HaMikdash, except that it is done in each and every home separately. This gives each and every one of us the opportunity to be part of this lighting (regarding the connection between the Menorah lighting in the Beit HaMikdash and lighting Channukah candles, see the Ramban: Bamidbar 8:2).
Let us try and bring holiness into our homes on Channukah, to feel this special light of the Menorah that we are privileged to have in our home. Let us try and become uplifted together with the candles; to be uplifted and enlightened by the light of the Torah, the light of love, unity and togetherness, the light of the Mitzvot. And, through this pleasant and special light, may we merit to continue to illuminate and enlighten ourselves and others, long after Channukah is over.
Lighting Channukah candles inside of our homes resembles the lighting in the Beit HaMikdash. Here, inside our private homes, we are all Kohanim, we are all ambassadors for Hashem. Our goal is to turn our personal, private home into a mikdash, into a place of holiness, and to bring the light of Hashem into it.
*(Translated by Rebbetzin Sara Krengel)