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Posts Tagged ‘Chanukah candles’

Candle 2: Watch, Don’t Use

Monday, December 10th, 2012

There’s an inherent problem in the rabbinic commandment that we may only watch the Chanukah candles but not use them. It works fine for stopping oneself from re-lighting a Shamash candle whose flame went out with one of the lit candles – everybody knows you’re not supposed to use the Chanukah candle for that, you have to strike a new match and light the Shamash anew (gone are the day when everyone around the Menorah had a useful, little Bic lighter in their pocket).

But what about the light – can it be used to illuminate an otherwise dark room? Can we only watch the Chanukah candles with all the electric lights on in the room, lest we see by mistake an object other than the Chanukah candles which is lit by those same candles, and thus be using them for something other than pure sight?

Like these two young women in the picture – or us, watching the picture for that matter, are we in violation of Rabbinic law by also spotting the ponchikes (sufganiot, jelly doughnuts)?

One quick solution would be to swallow up those lovely, fried dough balls and then there will be nothing left to see other than pure Chanukah lights, in memory of the miracle.

Bon appetit..

Publicize that Miracle!

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The first night of Chanukah, in the neighborhood of Nachlaot in the center of Jerusalem, December 8, 2012.

The idea of the Chanukah candles is to announce the miracle, make it as public as possible, kind of the visual equivalent of screaming it from the rooftops: We were stuck with only one little jug of oil and it lasted 1-2-3-4-5-6-7- and 8 days!

In Jerusalem they take these things very seriously, as you can see, literally publicizing the miracle in the streets.

Parshas Miketz

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Vol. LXII No. 51 5772
New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
Dec. 23, 2011 – 27 Kislev 5772
4:13 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

Sabbath Ends: 5:24 p.m. NYC E.S.T.
Weekly Reading: Miketz
Weekly Haftara: Roni VeSimchi (Zechariah 2:14-4:7)
Daf Yomi: Bechoros 39
Mishna Yomit: Yoma 6:5-6
Halacha Yomit: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 207:2-6
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Mechirah chap. 19-21
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 6:18 a.m. NYC E.S.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:37 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim. We bless the new month of Teves. Rosh Chodesh is two days, Monday and Tuesday. The molad is Sunday morning, 20 minutes and 17 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) after 7:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem).

This is Shabbos Chanukah as well. Friday night we light the Chanukah candles first, and then the Shabbos candles. We use larger candles or more oil to assure that these candles, which we lit earlier, remain lit at least a half hour after shekia. Following Shacharis we recite whole Hallel. We then take out two Sifrei Torah: in the first we read from Parashas Miketz, we call up 7 aliyos. We then place both Sifrei Torah on the bimah and recite half Kaddish. Following the Hagbaha, we read the Maftir in Parashas Naso, from Vayehi Beyom Chalos Moshe (Bamidbar 7:42-47). Haftara same as above. We do not say Av Harachamim. Otherwise the order continues as usual, with the exception of the inclusion of Al Hanissim in the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh. We conclude the service with Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis. Mincha: usual Kerias Hatorah, then we add Al Hanissim in the Shemoneh Esreh. At Maariv we say Vi’yehi Noam. Motza’ei Shabbos, in shul we first light Chanukah candles, then Havdala. At home the order is reversed.

The order of the day for Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday (the last day of Chanukah) is as follows: in the Shemoneh Esreh and Birkas Hamazon we say Al Hanissim, no Tachanun or E-l Erech Appayim, whole Hallel followed by half Kaddish (except on Rosh Chodesh, when we say whole Kaddish and Musaf). We then read from the Torah, beginning [on the fourth day] in Parashas Naso (Bamidbar 7:30), each day the first two Aliyos from the Nasi of that day. The third Aliya is from the Nasi of the following day. On the eighth day, the third Aliya concludes in the beginning of Parashas Beha’aloscha (Bamidbar 8:4), half Kaddish, no Yehi Ratzon. After the Torah reading we say Ashrei, U’va LeTziyyon, we omit Lamenatze’ach and at the usual conclusion of tefilla we add Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis.

Rosh Chodesh Teves (two days this coming Monday and Tuesday): Sunday evening; Maariv, we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as Al Hanissim.

Monday morning: Shacharis we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as Al Hanissim. Since it is Chanukah we recite whole Hallel, we then call the first three aliyos and read from Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15) and the fourth aliyah from the Nasi of that day (Bayom Hashi’shi – Bamidbar 7:42-47) followed by Musaf of Rosh Chodesh. Tuesday second day Rosh Chodesh same as yesterday.

Kiddush Levana at first opportunity, or at the latest until Tuesday January 10th at night.

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Jewish Candles: The Power Of Discernment

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.

God’s first magnificent gesture was to create light. For Jews, light is glory, insight, wisdom, warmth. It is safety and it is hope.

We acknowledge and mirror God’s great gesture with ritual significance during four important religious observances. The Mishnah in Pesachim teaches that “on the night of the fourteenth of Nissan we search for chametz by the light of a candle.” Chametz signifies not merely the physical process of leavening leading to seor, but also the leavening of our inner beings and our deeds. We therefore carefully search and look for any failings and shortcomings in all areas of our lives where we may have brought in leaven.

The halachic requirement that we use a ner for this task, a candle with a single wick rather than a multi-wick avukah, a torch, ensures that the light is intimate enough to allow us to reach into the depths of our minds and hearts and see failures and shortcomings lost in the more intense and overwhelming avukah.

The lighting of Sabbath candles formally ushers in the Sabbath in the home. A minimum of two candles are lit, symbolizing the two forms of the fourth commandment to honor Shabbat: zachor, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” in Shemot, and shamor, “Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” in Devarim.

The candles are to be lit on the table where the Shabbat meal is eaten, and should burn throughout the meal and well into nightfall. Ultimately, the reason for lighting Sabbath candles is to bring “light” into the home; to create an atmosphere, a cohesive family unit. The Talmud defines the need for Sabbath candles as shalom bayit. The holiness of the Sabbath day is meant to create a peaceful, tranquil, and happy Jewish home. Housewives, given the privilege of lighting the Sabbath candles, offer a moving and emotional prayer prior to hadlakat ha’nerot in which they ask God to instill shechinatecha beinenu, “His peaceful and bountiful providence among us.”

However, to be a genuine and creative Jew requires more of us than a searching soul or even a peaceful home. Judaism calls for openness and honest identification. It calls for a pride in one’s Jewishness, even to the point of pirsumei nisa. Judaism is more than the sum total of its institutions, organizations, shuls, or yeshivas. Judaism is first and foremost a community of proud, individual Jews willing to be known and counted as Jews. Thus the halachic requirement to light Chanukah candles so that we may “glorify Your name for Your miracles, salvation, and wondrous acts” not merely in historical and passive terms, but bayamim hahem bazman hazeh –“Who wrought miracles for our forefathers in former days, at this season.”

“At this season,” bazman hazeh, must relate to a living Jew, to a Jew willing to observe and look at candles directly and closely, and try to comprehend their relevant meaning. The law is that if one kindled the Chanukah menorah above twenty amah he accomplished nothing. Why? Because his act is not obvious. But what is not obvious? The very same candles are lit, on time, according to all halachic stipulation. What then is the psul? Perhaps the disqualification is based on the unwillingness to relate the mitzvah to a living Jew – to a gavra. Judaism cannot be camouflaged or hidden. Mitzvot cannot be placed beyond the reach of a living person, beyond human sight.

The Jew unwilling to declare his allegiance to halacha, his obedience to Shabbat, his concern for kashrut, his commitment to intensive Jewish education, his faith in God and trust in His nation – such a Jew has done nothing. His Judaism is impractical, institutional, lacks pride, and misses the essence of pirsumei nisa. Such a Jew relates to ideas at best, but never to a living people. He lacks something fundamentally “Jewish.”

The Rambam, in elaborating on the uniqueness of lighting Chanukah candles, writes: “One must be extremely careful in fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles, for it is a particularly special and adored mitzvah.” The Magid Mishnah, in citing the Talmudic source for Rambam’s emphatic statement, quotes the Talmud in Shabbat: “Rav Huna said that one who persists in lighting Chanukah candles is assured of children who will become talmidei chachamim.” In verifying the actual source in the Talmud, we find Rav Huna’s statement as reading: “One who is careful with the candle,” which Rashi interprets as being careful about the mitzvah of lighting both Shabbat and Chanukah candles, which results in the light of Torah.

Jewish candles, then, teach us a great deal about what it means to be an authentic Jew. First, it requires a wholesome Jewish home – ner Shabbat. Judaism cannot thrive but in an atmosphere of tranquility, with the family-oriented shalom bayit that is created and maintained uniquely through the Shabbat.

MK Otniel Schneller Attacked

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

MK Otniel Shneller’s (Kadima) way traveling home to the town of Ofra on Tuesday night to light Chanukah candles when his car was attacked with a Molotov cocktail. He was traveling with his wife and several grandchildren.

There was no damage or injuries from the attack.

A Made-In-Israel Chanukah Story

Monday, December 29th, 2008

    Last year on the seventh morning of Chanukah our phone stopped working.  It wasn’t completely dead; it was still receiving calls and placing outgoing ones.  But there was a funny kind of static on the line.  So on the seventh afternoon of Chanukah we called the phone company. At the time we had been living in Israel only a few months, and I still got shaky every time I made a phone call in Hebrew.   Luckily, the customer service representative was pleasant, and said a technician could come between either 3 and 5p.m. − or 7 and 9p.m. 

    “Which time would you prefer?” he asked.

     Which time? Well, that was a no-brainer. Nice and early in the afternoon or smack in the middle of bedtime?

     I made an appointment for between 3 and 5 and hung up. Then I informed my husband about the impressively quick service we’d be receiving.

    He turned to me with an ominous look in his eyes. “You know when he’s going to come,” he said, and I could practically see the storm clouds in the air. 

   “Between 3 and 5 p.m.?” I ventured.  Somehow I knew that was not the answer.  

    Meir shook his head. “He’s going to come exactly when it’s time to light the Chanukah candles.”

    I gasped. Okay, so I exaggerate. (Anyone who knows my husband knows that “ominous” and “storm clouds” are not words generally associated with him.)  But the truth is he very much likes to light Chanukah candles at the earliest possible time, at sunset, and, somehow, nearly every night of Chanukah that year something happened to delay us. And now the eighth night was rapidly approaching and we were waiting for a telephone repairman.

“Well,” I said with an attempt at cheeriness, “this is Israel.  If he comes when we’re about to light, we’ll just invite him to light with us!”

   On Meir’s face was that certain expression he gets when I am being particularly exasperating.

    “And I bet you’re going to tell me that Hashem made our phone break just so that an Israeli repairman can light Chanukah candles.”

   I shrugged and he sighed as he went back to cleaning out the glass cups of the menorah.

   The technician, Roni, arrived at 4:15 while my husband was at shul.  I showed him the phone, and he began to work, when Meir walked in the door.

   “Time to light!” he called out.

    “He’s here,” I mouthed, pointing to the room the man was working in, and glancing at my husband nervously.

    A moment’s hesitation – then my wonderful husband walked right over to the technician, gave him a warm greeting, and asked him if he wanted to join us for Chanukah lighting.  Roni was on his cell phone, but nodded and held up a hand, indicating that we should wait for him. I wasn’t sure if he thought he had to join us out of politeness, and felt a little bad about wasting his time when he probably had other jobs to get to after ours.

   We gathered around the menorahs, the six of us, and Roni.  We lit the candles, my children and my husband in turn. I noticed Roni listening attentively, an arm draped over his bare head, answering amen to the blessings.

    When we were almost finished, he thanked us and said, “You have no idea what a mitzvah you did.  I told myself this year I would light candles at least one night of Chanukah. But each night I came home too late. Tonight is the last night, and once again, I realized I would be home too late to light.  But now I was able to see it here!”

  Well, with such a revelation, there was really only one thing to do.  It was my husband’s turn to light one last set of candles by our front door.  Instead of lighting all of them himself my husband lit just the first candle and then waved Roni over.  Holding out the Shamash, he said, “B’Vakashah, please, finish the job for me!”

     I handed Roni a kippah that was hastily snatched from under my four-year-old’s baseball cap (it was a bit unnerving, though definitely heartwarming, watching Roni struggling to light the candles with one hand while covering his head with the other).  Roni lit the candles, beamed at us and went back to work.

    That was it.  He finished the job, we both thanked each other, and he left.  No grandiose ending here, no passionate declarations that from now on he’s going to make sure to light Chanukah candles every year.  Just a few simple Jews performing a simple mitzvah, in a land in which the extraordinary is born from the ordinary; where spiritual goals determine physical realities and a Jew’s need to light Chanukah candles can – just maybe − cause a telephone to break.

   (And yes, I did tell my husband “I told you so.”)

A Made-In-Israel Chanukah Story

Monday, December 29th, 2008

    Last year on the seventh morning of Chanukah our phone stopped working.  It wasn’t completely dead; it was still receiving calls and placing outgoing ones.  But there was a funny kind of static on the line.  So on the seventh afternoon of Chanukah we called the phone company. At the time we had been living in Israel only a few months, and I still got shaky every time I made a phone call in Hebrew.   Luckily, the customer service representative was pleasant, and said a technician could come between either 3 and 5p.m. − or 7 and 9p.m. 


    “Which time would you prefer?” he asked.


     Which time? Well, that was a no-brainer. Nice and early in the afternoon or smack in the middle of bedtime?


     I made an appointment for between 3 and 5 and hung up. Then I informed my husband about the impressively quick service we’d be receiving.


    He turned to me with an ominous look in his eyes. “You know when he’s going to come,” he said, and I could practically see the storm clouds in the air. 


   “Between 3 and 5 p.m.?” I ventured.  Somehow I knew that was not the answer.  


    Meir shook his head. “He’s going to come exactly when it’s time to light the Chanukah candles.”


    I gasped. Okay, so I exaggerate. (Anyone who knows my husband knows that “ominous” and “storm clouds” are not words generally associated with him.)  But the truth is he very much likes to light Chanukah candles at the earliest possible time, at sunset, and, somehow, nearly every night of Chanukah that year something happened to delay us. And now the eighth night was rapidly approaching and we were waiting for a telephone repairman.


“Well,” I said with an attempt at cheeriness, “this is Israel.  If he comes when we’re about to light, we’ll just invite him to light with us!”


   On Meir’s face was that certain expression he gets when I am being particularly exasperating.


    “And I bet you’re going to tell me that Hashem made our phone break just so that an Israeli repairman can light Chanukah candles.”


   I shrugged and he sighed as he went back to cleaning out the glass cups of the menorah.


   The technician, Roni, arrived at 4:15 while my husband was at shul.  I showed him the phone, and he began to work, when Meir walked in the door.


   “Time to light!” he called out.


    “He’s here,” I mouthed, pointing to the room the man was working in, and glancing at my husband nervously.


    A moment’s hesitation – then my wonderful husband walked right over to the technician, gave him a warm greeting, and asked him if he wanted to join us for Chanukah lighting.
  Roni was on his cell phone, but nodded and held up a hand, indicating that we should wait for him. I wasn’t sure if he thought he had to join us out of politeness, and felt a little bad about wasting his time when he probably had other jobs to get to after ours.


   We gathered around the menorahs, the six of us, and Roni.  We lit the candles, my children and my husband in turn. I noticed Roni listening attentively, an arm draped over his bare head, answering amen to the blessings.


    When we were almost finished, he thanked us and said, “You have no idea what a mitzvah you did.  I told myself this year I would light candles at least one night of Chanukah. But each night I came home too late. Tonight is the last night, and once again, I realized I would be home too late to light.  But now I was able to see it here!”


  Well, with such a revelation, there was really only one thing to do.  It was my husband’s turn to light one last set of candles by our front door.  Instead of lighting all of them himself my husband lit just the first candle and then waved Roni over.  Holding out the Shamash, he said, “B’Vakashah, please, finish the job for me!”


     I handed Roni a kippah that was hastily snatched from under my four-year-old’s baseball cap (it was a bit unnerving, though definitely heartwarming, watching Roni struggling to light the candles with one hand while covering his head with the other).  Roni lit the candles, beamed at us and went back to work.


    That was it.  He finished the job, we both thanked each other, and he left.  No grandiose ending here, no passionate declarations that from now on he’s going to make sure to light Chanukah candles every year.  Just a few simple Jews performing a simple mitzvah, in a land in which the extraordinary is born from the ordinary; where spiritual goals determine physical realities and a Jew’s need to light Chanukah candles can – just maybe − cause a telephone to break.


   (And yes, I did tell my husband “I told you so.”)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/a-made-in-israel-chanukah-story/2008/12/29/

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