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8 Fascinating facts about Hanukkah

8 Fascinating facts about Hanukkah

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December 5, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 17

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(10) Janet Berg, December 10, 2012 4:04 PM

Correction: The Shamash

The Hanukka lights are sacred. Their sole purpose must be to commemorate the miracle, and thus we are not permitted to make any use of them or derive any benefit from them "lest one slight the mitsva." The shamash is an additional, non-sacred, usable light placed near the Hanukka lights. Its purpose is to serve as a precaution against inadvertent use of the Hanukka lights: Any such incidental use of light in the area of the hanukkiya can be credited to the nearby shamash. Further, if there is a "blazing hearth filre" in the room, a shamash is not required, as it is clear that the light being used to see is not the menorah lights! (Talmud Shabbat 21b; Shulhan Arukh, Mishna Brura, and Beur Halakha, Orah Hayyim 671:5, 673:1). Thus, the real purpose of the shamash is not--as is commonly believed-- to light the other lights. Indeed, according to halacha (Jewish law), literally anything may be used for this purpose!

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