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Monday, Kislev 25, 5779 / December 3, 2018


Happy Chanukah. Questions & Answers about Chanukah:


Q.  Our custom of performing the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah is to light the first night one candle, the second night two candles until the last night when we light eight candles. Yet, in the Talmud there are other opinions how to perform this mitzvah.


A.  The Talmud records four opinions how to perform the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles: 


1)  One candle is lit for the entire family each night of Chanukah.


2) Each member of the family lights one candle each night. According to these two opinions, the amount of candles are the same each night of Chanukah.


3) The Talmudic sage Shamai maintains that we commemorated the days of Chanukah that are coming. Thus, we light eight candles the first night of Chanukah, seven on the second night, six on the third night and so on, until the last night when we light only one candle.


4) Hillel says that we commemorate the days that are going out. Thus, the first night we light one candle and we increase one candle each night until we kindle eight lights the last night.


The reason for Hillel’s opinion that we begin with one light and go up each night is because of the important rule, "One must go up and advance in matters of holiness and not descend." The law was set like Hillel that on the first night we light one candle and add one candle each night.


One of the many lessons we take from the Chanukah lights is that in matters of spirituality, holiness, mitzvot and good deeds we must strive to increase, doing more and more.


Q.  In addition to lighting the Chanukah menorah at home, it is also customary to light it in synagogue every evening after the Mincha (afternoon) prayer.  Why?


A.  The purpose of lighting the menorah is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah.  For this reason we place the menorah near the door or window so as many people as possible will see the lights. For this reason, we also light it in synagogue, which is a place of communal prayer, where people gather.


In addition, a synagogue is called a "small sanctuary" and is an extension of the Holy Temple. Thus, lighting the menorah in synagogue commemorates the miracle which took place in the HolyTemple.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged the construction and lighting of large public menorahs in shopping centers, parks etc. as another way to fulfill the mitzvah of publicizing the miracle of Chanukah.