Halacha for Tuesday 19 Kislev 5780 December 17 2019

The Holiday of Chanukah

Since we are approaching the holiday of Chanukah, let us begin discussing some of its pertinent laws based on what we have written in previous years in addition to new some new ideas as well.

When Chanukah Falls Out this Year
The holiday of Chanukah lasts for eight days beginning from the 25th of Kislev, as we shall discuss. This year (5780), the 25th of Kislev will fall out next Monday. Chanukah candles will be lit for the first time next Sunday night. On Sunday night of the following week, Chanukah candles will be lit for the last time this year.

The Impact of the Miracle of Chanukah Until Today
During the days of Chanukah, there are several laws and customs observed throughout the Jewish nation out of praise and thanksgiving to Hashem commemorating the miracles He performed for our ancestors during the Second Temple era.

At that time, the spiritual and material state of the Jewish nation was quite dismal as they were being viciously persecuted by the Assyrian-Greeks who controlled the Land of Israel. The Greeks imposed many decrees upon the Jewish nation in order to prevent them from observing the Torah and Mitzvot. There were likewise many Jews who joined the Hellenistic movement and began to behave completely like non-Jews.

Nevertheless, Hashem imbued the family of the Hashmonai High Priests with a mighty spirit and they led the Jewish nation in the path of Torah and Mitzvot. Although they were very few, Hashem caused the Greeks to fall at their hands and they were victorious over their enemies. They merited renovating the Bet Hamikdash and restoring the service of the Temple offerings amid purity. Hashem also performed the miracle of the single jug of oil which remained lit for an entire eight days. Were it not for the miraculous victory of the Hashmonai family, the Torah may have been, G-d-forbid, forgotten from the Jewish nation. Only as a result of these miracles was the Torah preserved for generations to come. It is for this reason that we are especially joyful and offer thanks to Hashem in unique ways in commemoration of the miracles Hashem performed for us during this time of year, so long ago.

Chanukah Customs
There are many details regarding the laws and customs of Chanukah. Below are the primary points:

  • The Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles
  • Adding the “Al Ha’Nissim” text to the Amida prayer and Birkat Hamazon
  • Reciting “Hallel” during Chanukah following Shacharit prayers
  • Reading the Torah portions of the Nesi’im every day of Chanukah
  • The prohibition to fast or eulogize during Chanukah
  • The custom of women not to perform work while the Chanukah candles are lit
  • Holding Chanukah parties/meals where words of Torah and fear of Heaven are spoken
  • The custom to partake of dairy foods and/or sweet, fried foods

Being Meticulous Regarding Lighting Chanukah Candles
One should be extremely meticulous regarding the Mitzvah of kindling the Chanukah lights, for it is a very beloved Mitzvah since through it we publicize the miracle amid thanks to Hashem. Our Sages teach us (Shabbat 23b) that one who fulfills this Mitzvah properly will merit having children who are Torah scholars. They derived this from the verse (Mishlei 6), “For a Mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light” where Rashi explains that through a candle associated with a Mitzvah (i.e. Chanukah candles) the light of Torah emanates. The Meiri further elaborates that this means that this Mitzvah must be done in a beautified and loving manner.

The Amount of Candles One Should Light
How many candles must one light on the holiday of Chanukah? According to the law, one candle per Jewish household is sufficient, whether the members of the household are few or many. However, it is customary to beautify the Mitzvah by adding one extra candle per night, such that on the last night one would be lighting eight candles (excluding the “Shamash” candle; some Syrian communities have the custom to two additional candles each night of Chanukah, one as the “Shamash” and one commemorating an unrelated miracle that they experienced).

The custom of the Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews is in accordance with the opinion of Maran, whose rulings we have accepted, that only one member of the household lights and thus exempts the other members of the household. Ashkenazim, however, differ in their custom in that every member of the household lights Chanukah candles for themselves.

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