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View Full Version : Do all the candles on a chanukkia need to be at the same level?


Emilio Lizardo
01-17-2007, 04:15 PM
Now that January is here I am designing a new chanukkiah for use next winter. I am a big fan of curves and angles, but according to some sources: The chanukia should hold eight candles that are all the same height. The ninth candle, the shamash, which is used to light the other candles, should be placed higher than the other candles on the chanukia.On the other hand, I see people selling chanukkiahs with all of the candles on different levels (http://simplepleasuresgallery.com/shop/index.php?c=165&i=120&t=1169068205) (although these are quite rare.) So whats the straight dope here? Is my angled chanukkia design kosher?

Exapno Mapcase
01-17-2007, 06:29 PM
I'm only familiar with the term menorah. What groups use channukkia or, as Wiki spells it - Chanukkiyah or Hanukiah?

hajario
01-17-2007, 06:33 PM
I'm only familiar with the term menorah. What groups use channukkia or, as Wiki spells it - Chanukkiyah or Hanukiah?

Technically "menorah" is generic and can be any candle holder. A chanukkiyah is a Chanukkah Menorah.

xiix
01-17-2007, 08:49 PM
I've definitely seen artsy ones that aren't all even. I am not in a position to comment on the chalahah on the issue (I can't even spell the word!)...

Cite (http://russiansamovars.com/images/menorahs/M-16.jpg)

Actually, now that I've google imaged a bit, it appears most menorahs are in fact on flat.

xiix
01-17-2007, 08:56 PM
The Menorah: Candles are lit on a menorah, or Chanukiah, in Hebrew. A kosher menorah must have space for eight candles all lined up in a straight row. All eight candles must have the same height. A ninth, extra, space must be raised above the other eight candle branches - cite (http://everythingjewish.com/Hanukah/Laws.htm)

But wait
Someone asked About.com your question, they got a Rabbi to respond:

Q. Is a curved Menorah kosher for Hanukkah?
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner (http://judaism.about.com/od/conservativejudaismfaq/a/ask_conservativ.htm) :
A. A round Hanukkiyah, even if the candles are not exactly at the same level, is kosher.

The ninth candle - the Shammash - should be a significantly higher level because it isn't counted into the eight. The purpose of the Shammash is to provide light during the burning of the candles, just in case someone accidentally forgets and uses the light of the Hanukkah Menorah for a secular purpose, e.g. sewing or reading.

The ruling that a curved Hanukkah Menorah is kosher is based upon a teaching of Rava that recalls when a Hanukkah lamp could have had oil and multiple wicks. So long as the bowl of oil was covered with separate openings for each wick, then one could use the one lamp. Such a lamp would clearly be circular.

cmkeller
01-17-2007, 09:22 PM
As long as the Shammah is the highest, and is clearly distinguished by its height from the other eight, I don't think slight variation in the height of the other eight makes a problem.

Anne Neville
01-17-2007, 09:56 PM
As long as the Shammah is the highest, and is clearly distinguished by its height from the other eight, I don't think slight variation in the height of the other eight makes a problem.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't have to be the highest. Mr. Neville and I have this menorah (http://jewishbride.com/store/media/products/treeoflifemenorah.jpg), where the shammash is the lowest candle. The shammash is clearly distinguished from the other eight candles, though.

I am not in a position to comment on the chalahah on the issue (I can't even spell the word!)...

Halakhah is the word you want. I'm not an expert on it, either, but I've never heard that a menorah isn't kosher if the candles aren't all at the same level. I guess there are some Jews who wouldn't use a menorah where the candles weren't all the same height, but there are a lot of Jews who would.

Technically "menorah" is generic and can be any candle holder. A chanukkiyah is a Chanukkah Menorah.

"Menorah" is sometimes used to refer to the seven-branched candlestick used in the Jewish Temple (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menorah) A hanukkiah, which is what most people think of when they hear the word "menorah", has nine branches (eight candles and one shamash) instead of seven.

Exapno Mapcase
01-17-2007, 10:30 PM
OK, first, to answer the OP's question - I've seen galleries full of artsy menorahs of varying heights so I would imagine that Conservative and Reformed Jews have no problem with them. Orthodox Jews are always a different species.

Now to my question. No matter what, I grew up surrounded by Jews, mainly Orthodox Jews (who are all too poor to have artsy menorahs anyway), who never used any other term for a menorah than a menorah. Who and where and what groups/people/areas/countries use an alternate term?

GilaB
01-17-2007, 11:46 PM
I know plenty of Orthodox Jews who could afford an artsy menorah if they wanted one. (Mine was free - my mother is a potter, and made one for me, but I get many complements on it, although I don't know if it would be sufficiently artsy for you. Hers definitely is, but I have somewhat less avant garde preferences.) It's more a question of culture and taste than anything else, notwithstanding species issues.

AFAIK, the menorah/chanukiah distinction is more Israeli than anything else. I'm not sure when it jumped over here. The people I hang out with use menorah in conversation, although they'd know the word 'chanukiah'.

Exapno Mapcase
01-17-2007, 11:54 PM
I know plenty of Orthodox Jews who could afford an artsy menorah if they wanted one.

My "are" should have been a "were." I was talking about my childhood in a very poor part of town, and my comment was specific to the time and people.

chappachula
01-18-2007, 12:18 AM
Is the OP making the menorah/Chanukiya for herself, or to give/sell to others?

Like everything else in Judaism, there are a lot of people out there who have wildly differing rules about what is kosher or not. The Orthodox of course follow the law (Halacha) strictly, and the non-Orthodox don't.

So if you feel obligated to make the menorah according to the rules, consult a rabbi. You can do it online at askmoses.com

If you want to be artistic and ignore the strict rules, there are a couple million Jews out there who have no problem with that, either.

as for the words menorah and Chanukiah--most non-Hebrew speakers use the genric word 'menorah', because they only use it once a year.

Emilio Lizardo
01-18-2007, 09:51 AM
I grew up surrounded by Jews, mainly Orthodox Jews (who are all too poor to have artsy menorahs anyway), who never used any other term for a menorah than a menorah. Who and where and what groups/people/areas/countries use an alternate term?I was raised as a Conservative Jew in the midwest, and all I ever heard was the term "menorah." In a Hanukkah thread last year on this very board, though, someone pointed out the technical difference, so in order to forstall that issue, I figured I'd just use the other term.Is the OP making the menorah/Chanukiya for herself, or to give/sell to others?I make them for the joy of making things. Sometimes I keep them, sometimes I give them as gifts. I would love to sell one someday, but its not high on my list. This is the last one I made (http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/361568730/) (the shammash is on the back.) None of my friends and family are particularly observant, though, so its not a big issue. I just wanted my ignorance fought.

gonzoron
01-18-2007, 11:35 AM
My wife and I got this lovely menorah as a wedding gift (not a surprise gift, we registered for it actually, and love it):
http://store.judaicgift.com/cotroflime.html

The Shammash is lower than the rest and the other candles aren't at all even. Maybe that makes it unkosher orthodoxically, but it's good enough for (conservative) me.

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