Friday, December 16, 2011

CHANUKA: The basics of lighting the candles

1. The Chanuka candles are kindled in the evening preceding each of the eight days of Chanuka. The custom of many communities is to light the Chanukia shortly after sunset, which is approximately 4.30 PM, in NYC. Other communities light it at nightfall (approximately 5.00 PM). In either case, the candles must contain enough fuel at the time of the lighting to burn for 30 minutes after nightfall. If one did not light the candles early in the evening, they can be kindled later, when the family is home.

2. The candles could be made of wax, paraffin, etc., but ideally one should use olive oil, because the miracle of Chanuka happened with olive oil. In addition, oil candles will last for more time than small wax candles. The Mitzva of Chanuka candles cannot be performed with 'electrical candles', even when real candles are not available. An electrical Chanukia, however, can be placed in the house in addition to the regular Chanukia, especially during day time.

3. Some families have the tradition to place the Chanukia outside the door, on the opposite side of the Mezuza, which technically, is the best place for it. Nowadays, however, most families place the Chanuka candles inside the house, close to a window, in a spot that is visible from outside.

4.  Technically, it is enough to light one single candle every night. As we say in the Berakha: lehadlik NER Chanukah (to light thecandle, not the candles, of Chanuka). As we all know, today our custom is to add one more candle for each night. However, in extreme cases where one cannot light additional candles, for example, if one is on a trip or in a Hotel room, etc., lighting one candle any night will be enough.

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle lighting in NYC: 4:10

Shabbat Ends: 5:18