Peninei Halakha

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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 of Ĥanuka. Even if there are many people living in one home, only one of them should light Ĥanuka candles, and he should light the number of candles that corresponds to the current day of the holiday. That is, he lights one candle on the first night, two on the second, and eight on the eighth. The reason for this is that the goal of the custom is to show how many days the miracle lasted, as this publicizes the miracle more. If everyone in the house were to light candles within the small space adjacent to the doorway, passersby would not be able to recognize which day it is, because everyone’s candles would appear conjoined and confuse the tally. Since according to this custom only one person lights, it is proper for the head of the household to light on behalf of everyone else.

If the children ask to light candles, their parents may let them light their own Ĥanuka candles, as long as they are careful to create a separation between each individual menora. According to the custom of most Sephardim, children who light Ĥanuka candles do not recite a berakha, but R. Mordechai Eliyahu ruled that children under the age of bar mitzva may recite a berakha. R. Shalom Messas ruled that if someone over the age of bar mitzva wants to recite a berakha, he should have in mind not to fulfill his obligation through his father’s lighting and may then beautify the mitzva by lighting the candles with a berakha (Yalkut Shemesh, oĥ 192).

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman