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Do the candles on the menorah have to be in a straight line to be kosher?

  

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Rabbi Jacobson: Welcome to askmoses. How can I be of help today?

Leslie: Do the lights on a Chanukah Menorah have to be in a straight line to be Kosher?

Rabbi Jacobson: Yes. Every night of Chanukah we light an extra candle so that one who sees the menorah can plainly see which night of Chanukah is being celebrated. If the candles aren't in a straight light, this can be confusing. And for someone standing outside looking through the windows, it would be almost impossible to decipher the amount of candles.1

Leslie: I see.

Rabbi Jacobson: You have to remember that one of the primary reasons for lighting the menorah is to do "Pirsumei Nissa" (publicizing the miracle of Chanukah). Any PR person will tell you that publicity has to be done in the clearest way possible!

Leslie: But I notice that there are some "fancy" menorahs with branches that go off in all directions. So you're telling me that these menorahs aren't really kosher?

Rabbi Jacobson: They may be ok to keep on your mantelpiece as a piece of art, but you shouldn't use them on Chanukah.

Leslie: Thank you very much!

Rabbi Jacobson: No problem. Have a fabulous day, and G-d bless you.

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Footnotes

  • 1. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:9
TAGS: Educational

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Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
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.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.