Friday, December 3, 2010

Chanuka candles and Shabbat

26th day of Kislev, 5771

Every night we light the candles at nightfall but today, Friday, December 3rd we light Chanuka candles 20-25 minutes BEFORE sunset: approximately at 4:05PM (NY time). Why? Because at 4:10PM we need to light Shabbat candles, and Chanuka candles must be lit before them.

Another specific rule for Friday's Chanuka candles: while every night the candles should last for at least half an hour, on Friday, the candles should last for more time. So, make sure your candles are long enough, or have enough oil to burn for approximately one extra hour .

When Shabbat is over, (5:18 PM), at home you should first recite the Habdala and then light the Chanuka candles. In the Synagogue, for practical reasons, we should first light the Chanuka candles and then do the Habdala.

When spending Shabbat at your parents /in laws house,do you have to light your own candles in your room or at home before you leave?

If you will spend the whole Shabbat at you parents/in laws, once you're at their house, you (husband, wife, children) are considered part of the extended family of your parents, and since you also partake the same food, house, etc. you are also included in their Chanuka candle lighting without further requirements. So, you don't really need to light your own Chanukia.

However, if you and your family are going to your parents/in laws house after Shabbat began or for dinner, then you should light Chanuka candles at your own house. In this case, it is recommended that you don't leave your house while the candles are lit, to avoid any fire hazard!

Shabbat Shalom and Chanuka Sameach!!!

Shabbat Candle lighting in NY: 4:10 PM

Shabbat ends in NY: 5:18 PM

Watch: 'Secret to Greatness', by Charles Harary

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ashkenazi and Sepharadic traditions for Chanuka

25th day of Kislev, 5771

There are no major differences between the two traditions, just a few minor variations as follows:

1. The Ashkenazim say in the Berakha: Lehadlik ner shel Chanuka. In the Sepharadic Minhag: lehadlik ner Chanuka, without the word "shel." The Mashadi tradition, however, is to say 'shel' following Bene Tziyon Siddur.

2. In the Ashkenazi Minhag, one first lights the Shamash (the auxiliary candle) and with the Shamash one lights the rest of the candles.
In the Sepharadic Minhag all the candles are lit first, with a regular match or with a longer candle and the Shamash is lit at the end. Also in this case, most Mashadi families I know would follow the Ashkenazi practice.

3. In the Sepharadic Chanukia the Shamash is placed, normally at the end of the Chanukia, In the Ashkenazi Minhag, in the beginning or in the middle, and a little higher than the rest.

4. For Sepharadim, it is customary to light only one Chanukia for all the members of the family. In many Ashkenazi communities they light one Chanukia for each member of the family.
Incidentally , this is also the case regarding Shabbat candles: while according to the Sepharadic Minhag only the mother lights the candle, in the Ashkenazi Minhag the daughters also light their own candle and say Berakha for it.

5. The famous Dreidel, spinner or sebibon is originally an Ashkenazi custom, which Sepharadim did not use to practice in the past. Same as Chanuka Gelt (money or gifts to the children).

Chanuka Sameach!!!

More on Sepharadic and Ashkenazi traditions:

This article is a Chanuka gift for all those who love Israel!!!

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Tonight, Wednesday December 1st, 2010, we will celebrate the first night of Chanuka 5771, lighting the first candle.

As we have already explained, according to our Sepharadic Mashadi tradition we light one Menorah per family, not per individual.

The father or the person in charge of the family, recites the following three blessings.
(On all subsequent nights, only blessings number 1 and 2 are recited).

Blessing #1: Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha-olam, Asher kide-shanu be-mitzvo-tav, Ve-tzee-vanu le-had-leek Ner Chanuka.

Blessing #2: Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha-olam, She-asa nee-seem la-abo-tenu, Baya-meem ha-haem baz-e-man ha-zeh.

Blessing #3: Baruch ata Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha-olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu ve-kee-yihemanu Ve-hee-gee-yanu laze-man ha-zeh.

The following text/statement is said each night, after all the candles, or at least the first one, has been kindled:

Ha-nerot ha-lalu anu mad-likin Al ha-nissim ve-al hapurkan ve-al hanif-laot Al ha-tshu-ot ve-al ha-milchamot She-asita la'abo-tenu Ba-yamim ha-hem, ba-zeman ha-zeh Al ye-de kohan-echa hake-doshim. Ve-chol shemonat ye-me Chanukah Ha-nerot ha-lalu kodesh hem, Ve-en lanu reshut le-heesh-tamesh ba-hem Ela leer-otam bilvad Kede le-hodot li-shmekha Al ni-sekha ve-al niflo-tekha ve-al yeshuo-tekha.

"We kindle these lights for the miracles and the wonders for the redemption and the battles which You performed for our forefathers In those days at this time through Your holy priests. During all eight days of Chanuka these lights are sacred and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them, but only to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for your miracles, Your wonders, and Your salvations".

Then we recite: Mizmor shir Chanukat haBayit leDavid...

Chanuka and the survival of Jewish Values, by Aish

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The basics of Chanuka candles

23rd day of Kislev, 5771

Chanuka starts B'H tomorrow, Wednesday December 1st, 2010.

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. Other communities light it at nightfall (5.00 PM). In either case, the candles must contain enough fuel at the time of the lighting to burn until 30 minutes after nightfall.

If one did not kindle the Chanuka lights early in the evening, they can be kindled later, when the family is home.

2. The candles could be made of wax, paraffin, regular oil, etc., but ideally one should use olive oil, because the miracle of Chanuka happened with olive oil. Another advantage of oil is that normally 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 used 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 Mezuzah, which technically speaking 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 could be visible from outside.

Q&A: Who lights the candles when the husband is on a business trip?

Click here:

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024

Monday, November 29, 2010

What is Chanuka?

22nd day of Kislev, 5771

The word Chanuka means 'dedication' and it is widely used in this sense in phrases like 'Chanukat haBayit', dedication of one's home.

So, what 'dedication' are we referring to in the Festival of Chanuka?

During the Second century BCE the Jews were subjugated by the Syrian-Greek army of Antiochus Epiphanies. They were not permitted to practice their religion . The Holy Temple of Jerusalem (Bet haMikdash), was captured and defiled by the Greeks.

They introduced an image of Zeus Olympus, and dedicated our Holy Temple to him, offering sacrifices of impure animals like pigs. In the years 165 BCE the Jews lead by Yehuda Maccabi rebelled against the powerful armies of Antiochus and miraculously defeated them. Their first mission was to recover the Bet haMikdash. They purified the Holy Temple and in order to dedicate it to God Almighty they needed to light the Menorah, to indicate that the Bet haMikdash was operating to God's service. They found one small jar, with an amount of oil which normally would last only for one night.

They lit the Menorah and joyfully rededicated the Bet haMikdash back to God. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, the exact time needed to produce new pure olive oil.

Chanuka means the 'dedication of the Bet haMikdash' to God Almighty, after years of being defiled.

Chanuka is observed by the kindling of candles during the nights of the holiday, in remembrance of the miracle of the oil.

Chanuka is celebrated on the 25th of the month of Kislev. This year, 2010, Chanuka starts Wednesday Dec 1st at night.

The story of Chanuka, from The History Channel:

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024