Friday, December 18, 2009

One Chanukkiah per family

1st of Tebet, 5770
Rosh Chodesh Tebet

Unlike most Mitzvot, Chanukah is not an individual Mitzva like Tefila or Tzedaka but a family Mitzva. In some ways, similar (but not identical) to the Mitzva of lighting Shabbat candles. So, as we have already explained, according to our Sepharadic Mashadi tradition we light one Menorah per family, not per individual.

For example, if one’s son or daughter lives overseas, and still depends financially on his or her family he/she does not need to light his own candles. In both cases, if those who are away from home still want to light the candles away from home, they could do it but without saying a Berakha. To this effect, a son or daughter is considered part of the immediate family while they are financially dependent on their parents (somekh al shulchan abiv). However, if they live on their own home and file their own Tax return, they should light their own candles.

If you are spending Shabbat in your parents or in-laws’ home, your immediate family (husband, wife, children) is considered part of the extended family of your parents, since you also partake the same food, house, etc. So, when you go to your parent’s house for Shabbat they should light the candles and your family is included in their Mitzvah without further requirements. However, if you and your family are going to arrive at your parent’s house after Shabbat has begun, then you should light Chanukah candles at your own house. In case the Chanukkiah is left lit at your house, you have to take extreme precautions to avoid any fire hazard!

DON’T FORGET to light Chanukkah candles before Shabbat candles!

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chanuka & Rosh Chodesh

30 Kislev 5770
(Rosh Chodesh – 6th Day of Chanukah, at night we light 7 candles)

Besides Chanukah, today we also celebrate Rosh Chodesh Tebet.

The month of Tebet is the tenth Hebrew month counting from Nisan. The name Tebet was coined in Babylonia, as is the case with the names of the other Hebrew months.

Rosh Chodesh Tebet is sometimes observed as one day and sometimes –for example, this year- as two days because Kislev, the preceding month, is sometimes "full" (consisting of 30 days) and sometimes not (consisting of only 29 days).

The first day of Rosh Chodesh is the 30th day of the preceding month, and the second day is the 1st day of the new month. The month of Tevet itself always consists of precisely 29 days; because of this lack of variation in the length of Tevet, Rosh Chodesh of Shevat, the month which follows, always consists of only one day, namely, the 1st of Shevat (from

Today and tomorrow morning we say in the Amida (Lachash) Yaale veYabo and al haNisism and we read the full Halel. Then we take out two Sifre Torah . On the first one we read the Rosh Chodesh portion, but instead of dividing it into 4 parts (4 Alliot) as we do every Rosh Chodesh, we divide the reading into 3 Alliot. In the second Sefer Torah we read the part corresponding to the 6th day of Chanukah. Tomorrow we will do the same thing except that in the second Sefer Torah we will read the text for the 7th day of Chanukah.

Recommended link: A contemporary Chanukah:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chanuka candles: when , where, how?

Wednesday Dec 16, 09 – 29 Kislev 5770
(5th Day of Chanukah, at night we light 6 candles)

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

2. The candles could be made of wax, paraffin, regular oil, etc., but ideally one should use olive oil, because the miracle we are celebrating was about olive oil. Another advantage of olive oil is that normally the oil candles will last for more time, while some small wax candles will last less than the required time (half hour).

3. In the past, people used to place the Chanukkiah outside the door, on opposite side to the Mezuzah, which technically speaking is the best place for it (some families still do it!). But nowadays, the Chanukkiah is normally lit inside the house, close to a window, in a way that could be visible from outside.

Recommended link to visit - On the prayer Al haNisim:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Electrical Chanukkiah

28th of Kislev, 5770

The Mitzva of Chanukah cannot be performed with electrical candles, even when real candles are not available. An electrical Hanukkiah, however, can be used in addition to the regular Hanukkiah especially during day time.

A few days ago, on Perashat VAYISHLACH, I explained why we are called AM ISRAEL. We read then that Yaakov fought with an angel and the angel blessed him and Yaakov's name was changed to Israel. Israel is the alternative name of Yaakov. But is that fair that we ?the Jewish people- are named exclusively after Yaakov? Why aren?t we called the people of Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people? How about Itzchack? The middle generation is always the most challenging! Wait a minute: a person?s Jewish status goes after the mother. Whatever religion the mother is, that is also the child?s. So why aren?t we called the people of Sarah or Rivkah or Rachel or Lea? Why are we named AM ISRAEL exclusively after Yaakov? Take a closer look at the spelling of the word ?Israel? and you will magically find the names of our three patriarchs and our four matriarchs: ?Yod? for Itzchack and Yaakov, ?Shin? for Sarah. ?Resh? for Rivkah and Rachel. ?Alef? for Abraham and ?Lamed? for Lea. They are all there?. Isn?t it beautiful? Isn?t Israel the perfect name for us?

Recommended link on electrical Chanukkiah: