Ritual Purity of Menorahs

Eliezer C Abrahamson (abrahamson@juno.com)
Sun, 17 Nov 1996 15:24:51 EST

Peter Kreps <peterk@perforce.com> wrote:
>elliot gordon replied to pat hoon:
>> [The] 8 candles representing the eight
>>days should be on one equal level. That signifies the equal
>>importance of each day of Chanukah.
>>The ninth candle should be higher than the others.

I'm not aware of any source for this statement that the shamash should be
specifically higher, to my knowledge it merely has to be kept separate so
that it won't be confused with the primary candles.

Peter Kreps asks:
>What if while the candle holders were on a slant you used candles
>of unequal lengths causing all the wicks and flames to be at the
>same height? Would that be kosher?

It would *probably* be okay (so long as the shortest candle can burn for
a half hour) but you should ask a rabbi.

>And if each day is supposed to be of equal importance, why do we
>light one candle on one night, two on the next and so on?

I don't know what source Elliot Gordon had for this explanation, it may
have been a private d'rush of his. The primary problem is that the
candles should not be in a circle or curve because this resembles a
"madurah" (a fire, as opposed to a "flame"). (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
671:4). The Magen Avraham includes in this category a zig-zag as well.
The Machatzis HaShekel explains says this is because a zig-zag also
resembles a madurah. The Mishna Berurah says that this is so we should
not come to make a circle. The Aruch HaShulchan says this is because each
candle appears to be an independent group. The Shulchan Aruch (and it's
standard commentators), Mishna Berurah, and Aruch HaShulchan do not
mention the issue of relative height, however, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch,
Chayei Adam and Shulchan Shlomo all say that they should be even. They
may be basing this on explanations similar to that of the Mishna Berurah
and Aruch HaShulchan's explanation regarding placing the candles in a