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Q&A

Lights for 24 hours or 3 hours on 8 days -- which is better?

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One understanding of the Channukah miracle is that oil that should have lasted for 1 day lasted for eight and the famous question is "if it should have lasted for 1 day, then why is the miracle an 8 day celebration as only 7 of the days were miraculous" and to this there are many answers.

One which I saw in an email this morning explains one udnerstanding:

The Bais Yosef famously asks why we celebrate eight days rather than seven days of Chanukah and answers that they split the oil into eight portions. Each successive night they put in an eighth and it remained lit the entire evening. In total, the nes transpired eight days.

It then goes on to discuss how they could have expected that an eighth of the oil would last even on the first day -- were they improperly someich on a miracle's happening.

I'm wondering if their thinking was that there is value to being able to see some light on a number of days, or being able to relight the menorah as opposed to keeping it lit for only 1 full day.

Is there any sort of halachic priority established when confronted with a choice between "having a light for a full day" and "having some light on a number of days for a shorter period of time" or even "being able to light the menorah on any given day"?

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Just to clarify for anyone out there who is new to this and might be confused: This question only applies in the Beis Hamikdash (Temple). In the celebration of Chanukah, the requirement is for 30 minutes past Tzais Hacochavim (same time as end of Shabbos). No bonus points for lights that burn for 1 hour or all night or 24 hours. manassehkatz‭ about 1 month ago

"it remained lit the entire evening"? I thought the Nes was "the entire day" - i.e., the Menorah was normally lit with enough oil to burn 24 hours. We think of "all night" in normal candle usage, but in the Beis Hamikdash the Menorah was 24/7, except for cleaning time (and even then, I think one flame kept going == Ner Tamid). manassehkatz‭ about 1 month ago

Yes, this is about the decision in the temple -- not in our houses as the personal obligation for Channuka candles is different. And I did see their language of "all night" and I guess they mean "over night until the next time it would be lit in the morning" maybe? rosends‭ about 1 month ago

@manasseh actually, the obligation is to light from sundown to when the streets quiet down. Many Rishonim did estimate the length of that period to be about a half-hour to an hour long. AA ‭ about 1 month ago

1 answer

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The Pri Chadash to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 670:1 s.v. ומקשו quotes the gemarra in the second chapter of Shabbos and the first chapter in Yoma as a counterargument against this Beis Yosef. It says there that the Menorah has to be lit the whole night. It sounds like if it will be lit only part of the night, it's worthless.

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I have seen that while the intention is to be all night, there are those that say if one of the candles goes out, it does not have to be relit that night. Since this is from memory, I cannot say definitely. sabbahillel‭ about 1 month ago

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