Surprisingly, the only Mishna which explicitly refers to Chanukah Lighting appears in Bava Kamma (62b, the tractate KTM is currently studying) where R’ Yehuda and the Sages clash regarding one’s liability for thepyrogenic damages his menora causes. The halakha, of course, follows the Sages who render one culpable, thus underscoring the imperative to exercise caution when Chanukah Lighting in the presence of unruly children who may overturn the menora and spark a conflagration. Although one who diligently fulfils the mitzvah of Chanukah Lighting is rewarded with scholarly progeny (Shabbos 23b), the promised effect is far from instantaneous, and so the reasonable safety measures one might choose to execute in the presence of hyperactive juveniles call for analysis.
Is Chanukah Lighting in a clear transparent plastic “Fisher Price”-like box acceptable? Shu”t Mikadesh Yisrael (1:23) answers affirmatively, given that visualization through the medium of transparent glass/plastic is legally considered bona fide visualization (as long as the medium is not magnifying that which would have been unseen by the unaided eye). To that effect, Shu”t She’ilas Ya’avetz (1:149) postulates that in yesteryear when Chanukah Lighting was performed exclusively outdoors, our ancestors must have employed glass boxes, for any unprotected candles would surely be extinguished by the wind.
Can one prematurely extinguish Chanukah Lighting after the minimum shi’ur (legally required amount) of a half-hour kindling? Frankly, the Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 622:2) allows such behaviour even in the absence of an infantile mischief danger, and although the custom (as recorded in the Magen Avraham and Bach) is to be stringent, the mitigating circumstances of wild toddlers are sufficiently great to waive the custom. Mikadesh Yisrael recommends, though, that one initially stipulate that he is only consecrating for the purpose of the mitzvah enough oil to burn the minimum shi’ur, obviating the concern that one will come to derive pleasure from leftover mitzvah fuel.
On shabbos, one is fearful that his fancy silver menora will be knocked onto the floor, seeing as the muktzeh candelabrum is immovable unto him for the entire day. Is there any recourse? Once the flames have expired, assuming a non-muktzeh item worth more than the value of the candelabrum was placed on the tray holding the menora before the Sabbath commenced andprovided one intends to remove the menora in order to rescue the walking path which would be obstructed by a fallen menora (e.g. the oil slick would cause slips), it is permitted to whisk the tray (and the menora indirectly with it) safely out of the reach of mischievous children, in accordance with the principles of “basis lidavar hamutar” and “tilul min hatzad”. However, before the flames have expired, moving the tray on shabbos is fraught with halakhic problems, because of the risk that one might accelerate the combustion or extinguish one of the candles by way of the mechanical agitation.
In conclusion, we may have discovered a further reason why the prevalent custom among ladies is to rely on their husbands’ Chanukah Lighting instead of taking the time to light themselves (cf. R’ Cohn’s Chanukah Lighting lecture last year, where he explored this question at length); they already have a full time job looking after their small (and not-so-small) charges during the Chanukah Lighting! So, too, may the Almighty continue to safeguard His precious children.