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What time am I supposed to light the Menorah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Chanukah » The Laws | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Night time is Menorah time. It is best to light the Menorah at the earliest possible opportunity; there are those who light the Menorah immediately after nightfall, but many (including Chabad) light the Menorah shortly after sunset. [If lighting before nightfall, you must be certain that there is sufficient fuel for the candles to burn for at least a half hour after nightfall.]

If it is impossible to wait until sunset, it is permitted to light the Menorah from Plag Haminchah. This however should be done only as a last resort.

On Friday evening the candles must be kindled before sunset... On Saturday evening the candles must be kindled after nightfall.
If you did not light in the beginning of the night you can still light them until one half hour before dawn. This is as long as the streets are still active or another household member is still awake. If the streets are already quiet and no one is awake you may light the candles without saying the blessings.1

The exception to all this is Friday and Saturday:

On Friday evening the candles must be kindled before sunset. Prior to lighting the Shabbat candles we say the blessings and light the Chanukah Menorah. Once the sun sets it is too late to light candles as it is already Shabbat and lighting fire constitutes a desecration of the Shabbat.

On Saturday night we do just the opposite. We specifically light after nightfall, and not before, in order to wait for the Shabbat to be over.

Footnotes

  • 1. Sources: Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 672:1; Igrot Moshe, vol IV, ch. 106; Sefer Haminhagim - Chabad, p. 70.

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Chanukah
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Menorah
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.