# How many candles to be lit

## How many candles are to be lit?[1]

[From the letter of the law, it suffices to light one candle every night.[2] However, in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Mehadrin we add a candle each night, as follows:] On the first night, one lights one candle. On each subsequent night, one is to add another candle until eight candles are lit on the last night, which is the eighth night.[3] In addition to the above candles, one also lights a Shamash which is kept separate from the other lights, as will be explained. [The above however is only applicable for one who can afford to add a candle each night, as doing so fulfills the Mitzvah of candle lighting Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin. However, if one is unable to afford more than one candle, he is to light a single candle each night, as is required from the letter of the law.[4]]

Household members:[5] All the [male] household members that light Chanukah candles [according to the Ashkenazi custom] are to follow the above Mitzvah of Mehadrin Min Hamihadrin and light an additional candle each night. If, however, one cannot afford this number of candles for every member of the family, then they are to light one candle per night.[6]

What is one to do if he forgot to light the previous night?[7] In the event that one did not light candles on one of the nights of Chanukah, nevertheless on the next night he is to light the same number of candles as is lit by everyone else.[8] [One who missed a night and is pained that he cannot make it up, can place double the amount of oil corresponding to both nights.[9]]

The Shamash:[10] It is customary to light an additional candle to the set number of candles of that night.[11] Customarily, the Shamash, which is the candle used to light the Chanukah candles, is used for this purpose.[12] After the lighting is complete, the Shamash is placed together with the other candles, although at a recognizable distance from them.[13] If, for whatever reason, one is unable to use the Shamash wax candle for this purpose, then at the completion of the lighting, he is to light an additional oil candle which is at a recognizable distance from the Chanukah candles.[14] The Shamash is to be recognizably higher than the other Chanukah candles.[15] This can be accomplished by either having a Shamash wax candle that is longer than the rest of the candles[16], or by placing the Shamash on a higher plane than the rest of the candles.[17] [The Shamash is customarily made of bee’s wax.[18]]

 Q&A When many people are lighting in the same home, is each one to have their own Shamash?[19] Being that every person is to light the candles in their own individual area [as explained in Halacha 2C] therefore each individual needs to have their own Shamash. [However, if for whatever reason they are lighting near each other, then technically, a Shamash is not required for each one. Nevertheless, the custom is for each individual to have their own Shamash, as it contains mystical meaning.[20]]   What is one to do if he recited the blessing and then realized that he did not prepare enough candles?[21] He is to light the available candles, and not talk until the extra candle is prepared and lit. If he talked in-between, he is not to say a blessing upon lighting the additional candle.   What is one to do if he lit the wrong number of candles?[22] Lit more than required: Some Poskim[23] rule he is to extinguish all the candles and relight. Other Poskim[24] rule he is to only extinguish the extra candle. Lit less than required: If one lit less than the required number of candles [and remembered while the candles are still lit] then he is to light the correct amount after he remembers. He is not to recite a blessing upon lighting the extra candle.[25] This applies even [if he spoke in between, or] did not have in mind to light another candle at the time of the blessing, and another candle then became available, nevertheless, a blessing is not to be recited.[26]
 If one spoke after lighting the first candle but prior to lighting the remaining candles, is a blessing to be repeated?[27] No. Nevertheless, initially one must be very careful not to speak until all the candles are lit.   If one became Bar Mitzvah, or converted, on Chanukah, how many candles is he to light?[28] He is to light the same number as everyone else who is lighting that night.   What is one to do if he only owns 9 or 10 candles?[29] He is to light two candles on the second night and light one candle on every other night. This applies even if one owns 10 candles, nevertheless, he is not to light two candles on the 3rd or subsequent night. [However, the Rebbe[30] suggests that perhaps one should light two candles on the third night.]   If one does not have enough candles for a certain night, how many candles is he to light?[31] He is to light only one candle. One only lights more than one candle if he has enough candles to correspond to that night’s number of lighting. Thus, if on the 8th night he only has 7 candles, he is to only light one candle. [However, the Rebbe[32] suggests that if one has the same number of candles as the previous night, then perhaps one should light that amount of candles, even if he will not be able to light the correct amount that night.]   What is the law if one does not have enough oil to last a half hour for all the candles of that night?[33] One is to place enough oil in at least one candle and then place a small amount of oil in the rest of the candles, even if it will not last a half hour.   What is the law if one has exactly enough oil/candles to last him for all the candles of each night, and his friend does not have any candles?[34] It is better for one to light only a single candle per night, and give his friend enough oil/candles for him to also light one candle per night, than for him to light the Mehadrin number of candles each night and leave his friend without any candles. If, however, the friend is not obligated in lighting candles, such as he is part of his household, then it is better for him to light the Mehadrin amount of candles and have his friend be Yotzei with him.

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[1] Michaber 671:2; Beis Hillel in Shabbos 21

Other opinions: According to Beis Shamaiy, one is to light 8 candles on the first night and decrease one candle each night. [Shabbos ibid]

[2] Shabbos 21; M”B 671:4

[3] The reason: Some say we add one more candle each night to emphasize which day of the miracle we are holding by. Others say we light one more candle each night as one is to increase in holiness and not decrease. [Shabbos ibid; See Likkutei Sichos 20 p. 207, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:275-281]

How can the Sages require Mehadrin Min Hamihadrin if it is more than 1/3 of the original Takana? See Likkutei Sichos 5; Statement of Velvel of Volozhin; Letter of Rebbe printed in Shaarey Hamoadim Chanukah p. 203

[4] M”B 671:4

[5] M”B 671:10

[6] Although this does not fulfill the level of Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin, it does fulfill the level of Mehadrin. [Shaar Hatziyon 671:11]

[7] Rama 672:2; Maharil; Aguda; See Likkutei Sichos 20 p. 207, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:275-281, that this matter is dependent on the dispute regarding the reason for the Mitzvah of Mehadrin, mentioned in Shabbos 21b

[8] Meaning, that if the next night is the 2nd night of Chanukah, then he is to light two candles, and on the third night he is to light three candles. We do not say that for this person the second night is considered the first night. [M”B 672:12; Darkei Moshe]

The reason: The Mitzvah of lighting candles each night is not similar to the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer, as there is a separate Mitzvah each night to light candles, unlike Sefiras Haomer which is a Mitzvah that is dependent on the completeness of the count. [Beis Yosef; Levush; Biur Hagr”a; Kaf Hachaim 672:27]

[9] Ruach Chaim brought in Kaf Hachaim 672:29

[10] 673:1

In today’s times of electricity: In truth, in today’s times of electricity, the use of the extra candle called the Shamash has become obsolete, as we no longer need it for the sake of light. Nonetheless, the custom is to light an extra candle as it contains mystical meaning. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 673:7]

Lighting two candles: Some are accustomed to light two extra candles near the Menorah. [Custom of Belz, recorded in Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

[11] Michaber ibid; Tur; Rabbeinu Yerucham

The reason: The reason for this is because it is forbidden to use the Chanukah candles for light. Hence, we place a non-Chanukah candle near the candles in order so one who uses the light will do so from the permitted candle. [Michaber ibid] Nevertheless, initially one may not use the light of the joint candles even when the Shamash is lit unless it is clear that one is only using the light of the Shamash. [M”B 673:15 in name of M”A]

The mystical reason: There are a total of eight Shamashim that are lit during Chanukah. Each Shamash contains a great holiness, similar to the Kohen who would light the Menorah, and similar to the Serafim who shine the Kisei Hakavod. This is why the Shamash must be placed higher than the other candles. [Kav Hayashar 96]

[12] Rama ibid

Using the Shamash as the extra candle placed by the Menorah: The Michaber ibid writes that the custom is to place an extra candle at a distance from the Chanukah candles, to serve as the extra light, and all the candles, including the extra candle, is lit using the Shamash. Thus the extra candle is not the same candle as the Shamash. Accordingly, many are accustomed to prepare an extra oil candle as the Shamash, and they use a wax candle to light it. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 673:7 that so is recorded in the name of Rebbe Yitzchak the son of the Raavad] However, the Rama ibid writes that it is not our custom to place an extra candle near the other candles during the lighting and rather we simply place the Shamash that was used for the lighting near the other candles when the lighting is complete. This is considered a better custom [Rama ibid] being that it makes it more evident to the onlooker that the Shamash is not one of the candles being lit for its obligation that night. [M”B 673:19 in name of Peri Megadim]

[13] Michaber ibid; Rabbeinu Yerucham

[14] Michaber ibid writes that this is the initial custom, as brought in previous footnotes, the Rama ibid writes using the Shamash is better, although he too agrees that if one can’t use the Shamash then one is to follow the custom of the Michaber

[15] Rama ibid “The Shamash should be longer than the other candles”; Mordechai; Sefer Haminhagim p. 159

The reason: So if one comes to use the light of the Menorah one will use the light of this candle. [Rama ibid]

[16] Rama ibid

[17] M”B 673:20

[18] Sefer Haminhagim p. 157 [English]; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 814; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 673:7 footnote 37

The reason: As bee’s wax is the closest quality to oil [see Rama 673:1], and obviously olive oil cannot be used being that one needs to use the Shamash to light the other candles. In addition, we desire to make a distinction between the candles of the Mitzvah and the Shamash. [Sefer Haminhagim ibid]

[19] M”B 673:18 in name of M”A

[20] See Kav Hayashar 96; Piskeiy Teshuvos 673:7

[21] Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 10; Kaf Hachaim 675:17

[22] Piskeiy Teshuvos 671:1

[23] Ohel Moshe 2:69; Mishnas Sachir 2:199

[24] Chochmas Shlomo 671; Alef Lecha Shlomo 380; Kinyan Torah 6:48; 7:51; Rivivos Efraim 1:434; Shevet Hakehasi 3:208

[25] Beis Yosef in name of Orchos Chaim, brought in M”A 676:1; Peri Chadash 672; M”B 672:6; Kaf Hachaim 672:19-20

[26] P”M 672 A”A 3; M”B ibid in name of P”M; Kaf Hachaim 672:19-20

The reason: As the main Mitzvah is already fulfilled when the first candle is lit. [ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule a blessing is to be recited on the extra candle that is lit, if he did not have in mind to light more than one candle. [Elya Raba 672:7 in implication of Beis Yosef in name of Orchos Chaim; Erech Hashulchan 672:7; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:6]

[27] See P”M 672 A”A 3; M”B ibid in name of P”M; Kaf Hachaim 672:19-20; Piskeiy Teshuvos 672:6

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the blessing is to be repeated. [Implication of Beis Yosef in name of Orchos Chaim, brought in M”A 676; P”M in Rosh Yosef Shabbos 23a, in contradiction of his ruling ibid; See Minchas Yitzchak 4:115; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid] This is similar to the law that one each household member may light their own candles with a blessing for the sake of Mehadrin, so too one may say a new blessing for the sake of the extra candles if he talked in between. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

[28] Rama 672:2; Maharil; Aguda; See Likkutei Sichos 20 p. 207, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:275-281

[29] Chasam Sofer 135; M”B 671:5 in name of Chayeh Adam; See Likkutei Sichos 20 p. 207, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:275-281, that this matter is dependent on the dispute regarding the reason for the Mitzvah of Mehadrin, mentioned in Shabbos 21b

[30] See Likkutei Sichos ibid that perhaps according to all one should add as much as he can.

[31] Based on previous Q&A as rules Chasam Sofer 135; M”B 671:5 in name of Chayeh Adam; See Likkutei Sichos 20 p. 207, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:275-281, that this matter is dependent on the dispute regarding the reason for the Mitzvah of Mehadrin, mentioned in Shabbos 21b

[32] See Likkutei Sichos ibid that according to the reason of “Kineged Yamim Hayotzin” one should add as much as he can, and according to the reason of Maalin Bakodesh, so long as one is not decreasing it is valid.

[33] M”A 671; M”B 671:6

[34] M”B 671:6