Lighting Chanukah Candles With Electric Bulbs

Is it possible to fulfil one’s obligation for Hanukah with electric light bulbs since it does not contain oil or a wick and is not reminiscent of the Menorah lighting in the Bet Hamikdash whatsoever.

Last year we did already call for putting some electric candelabras at the window. We never mentioned replacing oil or wax.

Let us preface this discussion by quoting the words of the Rashba in his commentary on Masechet Shabbat (21a) where he writes that the reason why it is forbidden to derive benefit from the Chanukah candles (during the first half-hour since it was lit) is because the Chanukah candles commemorate the miracle that occurred with the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash. Just as benefitting from the lights of the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash was forbidden, it is likewise forbidden to benefit from the Chanukah candles.

Ovadia Yosef.jpg
Ovadya Yosef, Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983, and a founder and long-time spiritual leader of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Also the Iraqi-born Talmudic scholar Ovadia Yosef writes (Chazon Ovadia- Chanukah, age 93) that it seems that one would not fulfill one’s obligation of this Mitzvah with electric light bulbs since it does not contain oil or a wick and is not reminiscent of the Menorah lighting in the Bet Hamikdash whatsoever. Many other great Acharonim concur. Furthermore, the Rashba’s position is echoed by several Rishonim. {Days of Chanukah- Days of Faith}

Based on this, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (Chazon Ovadia- Chanukah, age 93) that it seems that one would not fulfill one’s obligation of this Mitzvah with electric light bulbs since it does not contain oil or a wick and is not reminiscent of the Menorah lighting in the Bet Hamikdash whatsoever. Many other great Acharonim concur. Furthermore, the Rashba’s position is echoed by several Rishonim.

Thus, halachically speaking, although electric light bulbs may be used to fulfill the Mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles, nevertheless, regarding Chanukah candles, one must use candles made out of either oil or wax and a wick. {Lighting Chanukah Candles With Electric Bulbs}

I myself dare to say that everywhere in the house may be placed candelabras, so that every time we pass that place we are reminded of the wonderworks of the Elohim. It is true that according to the law, one candle per Jewish household is sufficient, whether the members of the household are few or many. But that does not mean we can not or should not light more candles.

For me, it is customary to beautify the Mitzvah by having candelabras with natural wax, but at the same time having an electric menorah standing at the window, as a sign for my neighbours that this is a house of a lover of God. Though many may not like us, we should not be afraid to show what our religion is and Who we want to follow and honour.

In these days of darkness and having lots of people living in the figurative wilderness, it does not sound bad to have some calls going out to that world, by some lightening at the window. Also in these darker days it looks more friendly and it is more pleasant to have some extra light in the house. Certainly in these days of what is for many a “horrible year”.

Lots of people can do with some more light. I also do not mind to have some sweetness with some extra things at the dinner table or when gathering with our very small bubble (just our own household) watching television. Having no one to meet in real life, the extra light gives the picture on the i-Pad somewhat a nicer background. No time for hugging, but with the electric lights at the window we also let nurses and doctors know that our thoughts are with them. (A poster with our words of thanks is also at one of the ground floor windows.)

The Coffee Shop Rabbi presents a nice thought:

In some ways, the shamash is the “extra” candle. It isn’t counted, doesn’t get credit for its light. But it stands for all the helpers out there in the world, who spread the light to others, often without credit for what they do. This year it stands for the healthcare workers, the journalists, the delivery people, the “essential workers” who do their work in danger and often for low pay. {Thoughts for the 1st Night}

Those healthcare workers and all those people who make their work possible should be in our thoughts and in our prayers. That the Elohim may protect them and give them the power to continue their work in good health and safety. That they also be a light in the life of those who got infected with this terrible virus.

Sitting around the table reading Torah, we can praise the Elohim for all the good things which come over us, but also for thorns and certain things that happen in this world, which we do not understand. Yes these days we praise the Elohim for the mysteries of life, but also for the many wonders.

For many 2020 has not been an easy year. Most of us probably know some family having had a CoViD-19 stricken person. Let’s hope they can fight a fresh light giving hope for better days to come.

May your lights continue burning brightly through the rest of this year and into the next.

+

Preceding

A beginning by the 2016 Chanukah celebrations

Tekufat Tevet – Darkness, gold moon and Light to look forward

Days of Chanukah- Days of Faith

Our Responsibility in corona-times #2 Opportunities for spirituality and reflection

++

Additional reading

  1. Coming together in dark days
  2. Hanukkah Feast of light
  3. 2020 Hanukkah gathering to be in isolation
  4. Beginning of a festival of lights

+++

Further, related articles

  1. It’s that time of year again…
  2. A month of holidays
  3. Let The Sunshine
  4. Let’s Celebrate Hanukah!!!
  5. Wonders of Chanukah: Erev Chanukah 5781
  6. This Chanukah: New Dedication
  7. It should again see light
  8. Thoughts for the 1st Night
  9. The First Night Of Chanukah
  10. Spread the Light: Hanukkah 2020
  11. This Chanukah
  12. Chanukah Menu
  13. [The morning after] The First Night of Hanukkah
  14. Rededication
  15. Psalm for Creation
  16. Happy Chanukah 202
  17. Plattsburgh Jewish Community Celebrates Hanukkah Virtually
  18. On Mikeitz: How Joseph Brings Meaning to My Hanukah Observance during This Pandemic by Ivy Helman
  19. A Day In The Life: Hanukah Edition
  20. Jews observed the holiday of Hanukkah in public for the first time in Dubai UAE on Thursday; Chabad reports an “exploding” number of Israelis in Dubai

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.