Halacha for Wednesday 20 Kislev 5780 December 18 2019

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles
We have explained previously that there is a Mitzvah to light candles on Chanukah. Both men and women are equally included in this Mitzvah.

The Amount of Oil
When lighting Chanukah candles, one should be certain to put in enough oil so that they will remain lit for at least half an hour from the initial lighting time. Similarly, if one is using wax candles, care should be taken that they should be long enough to burn for at least half an hour after the appropriate candle-lighting time which is when stars appear in the sky. There are some multi-colored candles on the market made especially for small Menorahs which do not last for half an hour; one should abstain from using such candles. On Friday afternoon when Chanukah candles are lit earlier than usual, more oil should be added, as will be explained, G-d-willing, in a following Halacha.

The Proper Order for Lighting
On the first night of Chanukah one should light the candle to the extreme right of the Menorah. On all subsequent nights, the new candle should be lit first followed by the candle(s) lit on the previous night(s). Thus, the proper direction for lighting Chanukah candles is from left to right such that the new candle that is added every night due to the additional miracle is lit first.

The Mitzvah is Performed by Lighting
Our Sages taught us in the Gemara in Tractate Shabbat (23a) that the mitzvah of the Chanukah candles is performed through the lighting of the candles and if the candles are extinguished, one is not obligated to rekindle them. This means that the main Mitzvah is through lighting Chanukah candles which will innately have the ability to burn for half an hour. Therefore, if the candles were extinguished due to a cause non-existent at the time the candles were lit, for instance, if the door or window were opened suddenly and a gust of wind blew out the flames, one is exempt from rekindling the flames. Even so, it is an extra special Mitzvah to relight any candle (without a blessing) that has been extinguished if it is still within a half hour of being lit.

However, if the candle was extinguished before the halachic timespan of half an hour due to an intrinsic reason, for instance, because it was lit in a windy place or it was not filled with enough oil, one is obligated to relight the candle, albeit without a blessing.

Benefitting from the Candles
One may not derive personal benefit from the Chanukah candles. Thus, one may not use the light of the candles to aid in counting money or reading a book. After the candles have been lit for half an hour, however, one may use the light for whatever one pleases. Nowadays when electricity is common, we do not usually derive any benefit from the Chanukah candles in any event.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Milk and Meat Dishes and the Laws of Giving Putrid Taste

When one cooks meat in a pot, the walls of the pot absorb some of the food cooked in it and is therefore considered “meat”. If dairy is later cooked in the same pot, the pot will release some of the meat flavor contained in its walls into the dairy food and will therefore prohibit the en......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures

The Torah states three separate times (Shemot 23 and 34; Devarim 14): “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Our Sages (Chullin 114a) expounded that each of the times this prohibition is mentioned comes to teach us another law: The first time it is mentioned teaches us ab......

Read Halacha

The “Three Weeks”

The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth o......

Read Halacha