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Holiday Central > Chanukah > Menorah  > Oils, Candles or Electricity
Menorah Lights: Oil, Candles or Electricity?
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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Chanukah lights commemorate the miracle that happened with the menorah in the Temple after the Chanukah victory. Because olive oil was used in the original Temple menorah service, it is the preferred fuel for the chanukiyah today. Beeswax candles are a close second. Paraffin candles are fine too. The classic skinny multi-colored candles are not a requirement. Some suggest the reason that Chanukah candles are skinny is to distinguish them from the chubby votive candles used in non-Jewish rituals.

  · Olive Oil and the Jewish Question  
  · Electric Chanukah Menorahs

Olive Oil and the Jewish Question
Judaism is chock full with attempts to infuse everyday life with holiness, down to the smallest details. Think about the blessing said when donning new clothing. It serves to relate a brand new shirt to God's blessings. This mindset turns every object into a potential spiritual symbol. In this spirit, olive oil becomes a succinct squirt of Jewish history. Golden olive oil is extracted only after an olive is crushed. Throughout the Jewish people's history, historic turmoil has brought out the best of Jewish smarts and strength.

Electric Chanukah Menorahs
The simple reason why electric chanukiyahs are not preferred is because the chanukiyah is lit to celebrate a miracle that happened with oil, wicks, and real fire. Electric chanukiyahs are far from this original form. 

A more complex halachic, Jewish legal, reason is due to the technical requirement that at lighting times enough fuel should be in place to keep the flames alight for a half hour. Electricity flows from the outlet on an as-needed basis, leaving plug-in chanukiyahs without such a reserve. 

Battery-operated chanukiyahs may be more acceptable because they do have a half-hour's worth of "fuel" stored within them at lighting time. There are other details to be aware of before using a battery-operated chanukiyah. Consult a local, knowledgeable rabbi before attempting to fulfill the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles by using an electric chanukiyah.

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