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Reasons to light the menorah

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CLOIE ZANKMAN

By Special to the Monitor

On Chanukah, the main mitzvah, or commandment is to light the Hanukkah menorah at sundown. This is to remember the miracle that the oil that was lit on the menorah was only enough to last a single day but ended up lasting for eight complete days.
One of the traditions regarding lighting candles is to light oil like what was done in the Temple. However, we are not allowed to use a menorah that has seven branches like the one in the Temple –— which the Maccabees lit after expelling the Greeks from Israel.
Instead, we light a menorah with eight branches, which is also known as a Chanukiyah. The simplest explanation for why we light an eight-branch menorah is because each candle represents one of the eight nights over which the miracle lasted. However, there is a more complicated reason as to why the mitzvah is performed as it is.
To understand why we may light with oil and may not use a seven-branch menorah, we must look at Jewish Law, especially those laws involved with the building of the Mishkan and Beit HaMikdash, the Tabernacle and the Temple, respectively.


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