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Can I use an electric Menorah for Chanukah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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


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Having an electric Menorah in your window is a wonderful idea; it is a great way to advertise the miracle of Chanukah to all your neighbors. In one aspect it is even better than candles, because it remains lit all night.

But.... you haven't fulfilled the Mitzvah of lighting the menorah by lighting an electric menorah.1

Many think that light bulbs and candles are quite the same; after all they both emit light. But the truth is that the menorah is not (only) about light. It is about remembering the Chanukah miracle which occured with light emitted from candles: i.e light produced by a wick and fuel that is kindeled with a match.2

So our advice is to have two menorahs. You should make the blessings on the old-fashion menorah, and be inspired by the ageless message which the flames impart. The new-fangled one should be displayed in the window where it will hopefully inspire countless passersby to go home, light their own oil or candle menorah, and recount to their children the great miracles which G-d did on our behalf many years ago.

Footnotes

  • 1. Responsa Bais Yitzchok, Yoreh De'ah vol. I, 120:5; Responsa Pekudas Elazar ch. 23.
  • 2. It is for this reason that it is preferable to use olive oil and wicks to light the Chanukah Menorah. But wax candles are similar enough and also acceptable.
TAGS: electric

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COMMENTS

Electric Menorah

Posted by: Helene Handaly, East Brunswick, NJ on Dec 25, 2005

When placing an electric menorah in the window, should the first light be on the left or right from the outside?

Editor's Comment

To the right side of the pedestrian viewer.
Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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.