By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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· Earliest Time of Day To Light the Chanukah Candles
· The Latest Time of Day to Light the Chanukah Candles
· How Long Should the Candles Burn?
· Lighting Chanukah Candles Before and After Shabbat
The Earliest Time of Day to Light the Chanukah Menorah
There are many customs that set the earliest time for lighting Chanukah candles: at sunset, ten minutes after sunset, 30-minutes after sunset, after the evening service. Some are careful to light as early as possible to display a healthy eagerness to fulfill this mitzvah, commandment.
The Latest Time of Day to Light the Chanukah Menorah
Making every attempt to publicize the Chanukah miracle of the long-lived oil shapes many of the rules behind the hows and whys of chanukiyah lighting. It is also the reason why the Talmud allows for chanukiyah lighting as long as "there are still people walking in the marketplace." (Shabbat 21b) That is to say, a chanukiyah may be lit whenever people will still be around to see the candles which fulfills the mitzvah to spread word of the Chanukah miracle. Jews who live in a city that never sleeps have the go ahead to light to whenever-o'clock at night. Other Jews who live in saner cities do well not to forget that members of one's own household count as the "public" and are sufficient eyes to witness the lighting.
How Long Should the Flames Remain Lit?
At minimum, the lights should burn for 30 minutes after nightfall, the time when three medium-sized stars appear.
Lighting the Chanukah Menorah Before and After Shabbat
The Chanukah blessings do not change when chanukiyah candles are lit on Friday eve or Saturday night.
On Friday night, the chanukiyah should be lit and the Chanukah blessings recited before the Shabbat candles are kindled. Lighting Shabbat candles ushers in the Sabbath, after which starting or transferring fires is prohibited.
Extra hefty Chanukah candles or an extra tablespoon or so of oil should be used on Friday night to ensure the chanukiyah candles last for at least 78 minutes. The reason for this is Shabbat arrives eighteen minutes before sunset. Chanukah candles have to last at least 30 minutes past nightfall. Here's the math…
The Chanukah candles are lit before the Shabbat candles so they have to last 18 minutes until sunset. They have to remain lit about 30 more minutes until twilight passes into night. Then to fulfill the Chanukah minimum burning time, they have to burn yet another 30 minutes into the night.
On Saturday night, the Havdalah service, marking the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the regular weekdays, should be said before the Chanukah candles are lit.
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