Chapter: 12 – Lighting the Chanukah Candles

01. The Mitzva to Light Ĥanuka Candles

The Sages ordained lighting candles* all eight days of Ĥanuka, which correspond to the days on which the Jewish people celebrated and praised God for helping them defeat the Greeks, liberate Jerusalem, and purify the Holy Temple. It was on … Continue reading

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02. The Number of Candles and the Mehadrin min Ha-mehadrin Practice

The mitzva of lighting Ĥanuka candles is very beloved. In general, there are two levels of mitzva observance: fulfillment of the basic obligation and mehadrin, going beyond the basics to beautify the mitzva. When it comes to Ĥanuka candles, however, … Continue reading

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03. The Sephardic Custom

There are different traditions regarding how to fulfill the custom of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin in practice. According to Sephardic tradition, the main way of beautifying the mitzva is to light the number of candles that corresponds to the current day … Continue reading

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04. The Ashkenazic Custom: Men, Women, and Children

According to Ashkenazic custom, each member of a household must light his own candles in order to fulfill the custom of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin. That is, on the first night everyone lights one candle and on the eighth night everyone … Continue reading

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05. The Berakhot and Ha-nerot Halalu

The Sages prescribed that we recite two berakhot before lighting the Ĥanuka candles, so that we focus on the two aspects of the mitzva. The first berakha relates to the mitzva itself: “…Who has sanctified us with His mitzvot and … Continue reading

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06. Family Participation in the Mitzva

One should try to gather the entire family for candle lighting, so that everyone can hear the berakhot, answer “amen,” and witness the lighting. Besides the fact that this glorifies the mitzva and publicizes the miracle, it is necessary for … Continue reading

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07. The Candles

One may use any type of oil or wick for the Ĥanuka candles, including those that are unusable for Shabbat candles. This is because the purpose of Shabbat candles is to illuminate one’s home, and if they do not burn … Continue reading

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08. Electric Bulbs

After electricity was discovered, the question was raised: Does one fulfill the mitzva of lighting Ĥanuka candles with electric bulbs? In practice, most poskim maintain that one may not use electric bulbs, because they are not considered “candles,” which have … Continue reading

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09. Lighting Is the Mitzva

The mitzva is fulfilled by the act of lighting the candles, not by having them lit. This is evident from the formulation of the berakha: “Who has sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to light Ĥanuka candles.” Therefore, … Continue reading

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10. The Prohibition of Benefiting from the Candles

One may not benefit from the light of the Ĥanuka candles, whether for mundane purposes, like counting money, or sacred purposes, like studying Torah. This is because the candles are designated for the mitzva of lighting Ĥanuka candles, and just … Continue reading

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11. The Menora and the Shamash

It is proper to beautify the mitzva by using a beautiful menora (ĥanukiya, candelabrum), each according to his means. Some go above and beyond and buy a menora made of gold or silver. One who does not have a menora … Continue reading

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12. Setting up the Candles and Lighting Them

When setting up the menora, one is faced with several choices: Where, preferably, should the first candle be set up on the first night, the second on the second night, etc., and which candle should be lit first? Even though … Continue reading

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13. Prior to Lighting

One may not begin to eat within half an hour before candle-lighting time, which is at tzeit (as we will explain below, 13:4). One may not even begin a light meal, since he might drag out the meal and forget … Continue reading

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14. Lighting in the Synagogue

It is customary to light Ĥanuka candles in the synagogue, reciting all of the berakhot there that we recite at home. Even though the Sages ordained only that one must light at home, the custom developed to light in the … Continue reading

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15. Candle Lighting at Public Gatherings

Many people glorify the miracle by lighting Ĥanuka candles wherever people gather, like at weddings, bar mitzvas, bat mitzvas, Ĥanuka parties, and lectures. But may one recite a berakha over the lighting at such an event? Many contemporary rabbis maintain … Continue reading

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