Shabbat vs. Chanukah Candles

Friday, 1 December, 2023 - 2:17 pm


Shabbat vs. Chanukah Candles 

Considering that we light the Menorah on Chanukah to commemorate the miracle that occurred with the Menorah in the temple, it is interesting to note that there are profound differences between the candles of the Menorah in the temple and the candles of the Chanukah Menorah:

The temple candles were ignited: 

(1) inside the temple

(2) in the afternoon, when the sun was still shining

(3) seven candles were lit

(4) the same number of candles were lit every day. 

Whereas on Chanukah, 

(1) the original ordinance was to light the candles “outside, at the entrance of the house”

(2) the candles are lit “after sunset” 

(3) we light eight candles

(4) we increase the amount of light each night

There is one reason for all these differences.

The temple era represents a time of spiritual light and awareness. Therefore, at that time we focused on serving G-d in a state of figurative daytime, and we consistently served G-d with the number seven, which represents the full gamut of our natural abilities. Chanukah, on the other hand, was a time of triumph of light over spiritual darkness, thus we take the candles and illuminate the darkness outside. We must consistently increase our efforts and commitment  with devotion which extends beyond logic or reason, represented by the number eight, in order to fearlessly overcome any challenge. 

Shabbat candles are similar to the candles of the temple. Shabbat candles represent creating a holy environment in the home for our family. On Shabbat, we are in a state of wholesomeness and spiritual awareness. As we light the Shabbat candles we bring the spiritual light into our home and our home becomes a temple, a space of holiness and connection. 

By contrast, on Chanukah we seek to illuminate the world as a whole. We know that ultimately, we will succeed in our spiritual mission, the mission of the collective Jewish people throughout history, to illuminate the world and infuse it with goodness and kindness, transforming it into a temple, a home for G-d Himself.  


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