If possible, one should daven Minchah on Friday erev Shabbos Chanukah before lighting Chanukah lights.
- Because the afternoon tamid was brought in the Beis HaMikdash before the Menorah was lit..and
- Davening Minchah after the lights are lit appears contradictory, as Minchah says “it’s Friday” and Chanukah lights says “it’s Shabbos”.
But certainly if it is a question of davening Minchah without a minyan, it is better to light first and then daven Minchah with a minyan, rather than davening alone first.
There is an old minhag to light the Chanukah neiros in Shul in the morning as well. Some suggest that this took hold as reminiscent of the Rambam’s opinion, that the Menorah was lit in the Beis HaMikdash in the morning as well. And so the miracle was evident in the morning as well – and we remember this in the Mikdash Me’at (see last week’s attachment). This is also answer number 13,456 to the Beis Yosef’s Chanukah question – think about it!