Hanukkah/Chanukah - What's the Mitzvah?

Happy Chanukah/Hanukkah from the EtsyChai Team

Posted by Linda Blatchford, Team Captain

Here's a quiz: 
What is the primary mitzvah of Chanukah?   

a) Eating potato latkes (potato pancakes)
b) Giving Chanukah gifts or gelt (money)
c) Publicizing the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days
d) Playing Dreidel  

The correct answer is C. While the customs of Chanukah include eating latkes, giving monetary and other gifts and playing dreidel, the primary mitzvah of Chanukah is to light the menorah and display the lights, thus publicizing the miracle when the oil in the menorah in the Holy Temple burned for eight days instead of one.  

Menorah Earrings by Linda B
Jewish Earrings Menorah Blue Earrings

In order to fulfill this mitzvah of publicizing the miracle, the menorah/chanukiah should be lit where it can be seen by the public. Chanukah lights were originally lit only in the doorway of the home, opposite the mezuzah, facing the street. However, it is now common practice outside of Israel to place the menorah in a window facing the street.  

Dreidel Menorah by Yafitglass

In order to make certain that the lights are visible, the menorah is lit after dusk. (There are two opinions regarding the correct time to light, so please consult your local rabbi.) On Friday evening, however, the menorah is lit before the Shabbat candles and extra oil (or longer candles) are used so that the Chanukah lights remain lit after nightfall.  

If one is unable to light at the appropriate time, one may light later in the night, as long as there is someone else in the house who is awake (thus fulfilling the requirements of publicizing the miracle).  

Kiddush Cup by April

If it is very late and no one is awake, one should light the menorah without the blessings.  

If there are still people in the street or in the apartments of a facing building who would see the lit menorah, it is permitted to light and say the blessings.  

If the menorah was not lit at all during the night, there is no "make-up" lighting during the day.  

NOTE: Please be sure to review fire safety procedures with your family.  

Zayde Mug Rug by Barb
Zayde Knit Mugrug

This Jewish Treat was last posted on December 6, 2012.  

1 comment:

Yafit Haba said...

Thanks for posting this useful information and thanks so much for including my dreidel menorah. Happy Thanksgivukkah!