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What Constitutes a Kosher Chanukah Menorah?

What Constitutes a Kosher Chanukah Menorah?


There are not very many requirements for a kosher menorah, and most—but not all—of the menorahs on the market are just fine. The basic elements of the menorah are eight candle (or oil) holders, and one more, that is set a bit higher or lower than the rest, for the shamash (attendant) candle.

That said, there are some factors to consider when purchasing a menorah:

  • The Chanukah lights can be either wax candles, or oil-fueled lights. Since the miracle of Chanukah transpired with olive oil—the little cruse of oil that lasted for eight days—the oil menorah is preferable to the candle one, and olive oil is the ideal fuel.
  • Whenever purchasing a mitzvah article, we try to buy the most beautiful one that is within our means. So, if at all possible, go for the silver menorah. Beautifying a mitzvah is our way of expressing our appreciation to G‑d, and how dearly we hold His commandments. (A beautiful menorah also makes for a beautiful centerpiece for your silver closet or mantelpiece . . .) See also Buy an expensive menorah or give the money to charity?
  • The eight candles of the menorah must be arranged in a straight line, not set in a semicircle. Similarly, the menorah’s lights should be level or on an even slant, not some randomly higher than others.
  • If it is an oil menorah, the oil cups must hold enough oil to burn for at least 1½ hours.1
  • Just in case you are considering constructing a mammoth menorah to better publicize the Chanukah miracle, the maximum height of a menorah is around 31 feet. People don’t normally look up higher than that height, and a menorah taller than that wouldn’t serve the intended purpose.

Click here to browse a large selection of kosher menorahs available for purchase.

Click here for more menorah-lighting information.

Wishing you a happy Chanukah!

Yours truly,
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, Editorial Team


On the average Chanukah night, the menorah needs to burn for only one-half hour after dark. On Friday evenings, however, the menorah is kindled before sunset—but must still remain lit until one-half hour after dark, a timespan of approximately 1½ hours. This rule should also be kept in mind if purchasing candles for the menorah: the Friday night candles should be larger than the standard Israeli candles that last only a bit longer than half an hour.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Eliezer Zalmanov for December 20, 2016

The candles need to be in a straight line so that it doesn't look like a bonfire, rather each candle is noticeable on its own.

We actually light from left to right, with the new candle always being lit first. Reply

miriam fiber los angeles December 19, 2016

why do the candles need to be in a straight line and why do we lite from right to left Reply

Shaun Hilgenfeld Crockett tx December 20, 2015

What candles do I have to use Reply

Bryan Tennessee November 12, 2014

I have an old menorah, which is a little bent a little towards the candle holder. its in a general straight line. Are we still kosher? =) Reply Staff November 27, 2013

As long as the actual flames are on the same level and in one line, it is fine. Reply

Rodney Western Cape November 27, 2013

I have a decorative candle holder made from an old oak wine barrel slat which has 9 positions. The position in the middle is suitable for a separate candle holder to raise a shamus above the rest of the candles. The candles remaining candles will sit on an arc in terms of height, but in a straight line in the horizontal plane. Is this acceptable? Reply

Malkie Janowski for Coral Springs January 16, 2013

A non-Jew may create a menorah. Reply

Sammy Ekol IA January 10, 2013

I have yet to encounter a menorah that does not self-extinguish. Reply

RJS (Wales, UK) UK January 9, 2013

I am a metal worker and would like to make a menorah as a gift for a Jewish friend. I am not a Jew, would that be considered acceptable as long as I follow the design rules above? (Lights in a straight line and so on)

Any guidance appreciated. Reply

Anonymous December 11, 2012

Why do all the candles (except the shamash) need to be in a straight line and the same height? What is the source and what is the reason? Reply

Sammy Ekol Brooklyn, NY December 4, 2008

The word Chanukia was made up by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's wife. Why should we use this modern Hebrew word when we have an nice old "Holy Tongue" word? Reply

Eliezer Posner, Brooklyn, NY December 4, 2008

You can light your menorah with oil that may have non-kosher food mixed in.
However it is preferable to use kosher oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil does not need kosher supervision, so it's really not
too hard to make sure to light your menorah with kosher oil. Reply

Rick Teller Las Vegas, NV USA December 3, 2008

Need the olive oil used in a manorah have to be kosher parve? Reply

Naftali Silberberg (Author) December 5, 2007

The Hebrew word "menorah" simply means candelabra—without regard for the number of its branches. As such, the word menorah can refer either to the seven-branched Temple Menorah or the eight-branched Chanukah Menorah. Reply

Dr Edwin Leo Levin Cape Town , RSA December 5, 2007

Are these terms really interchangeable?
Surely Menorah refers to the intricately designed, 7 branched candelabra which Moshe was instructed to make out of a single piece of Gold. Each branch and decoration having spiritual symbolic significance. The customary use of Menorah is confusing to the secular Jew who does not know the significance of differentiation between the two.
I suggest that Chanukia would be more apt a description of what we use for "pirsum haneis". Reply

Stephen Weinstein Camarillo, CA via November 18, 2007

Also, menorahs that do not self-extinguish are not acceptable for use on Friday night. This is because it is neither permitted to extinguish the lights before sundown nor permitted to extinguish the lights on Shabbos. Therefore, the lights must extinguish on their own after sundown. If this does not occur, and a person must extinguish the lights, then the menorah cannot be used on Friday night. (This is particularly likely to be a problem with wooden menorahs, some of which can catch fire if the candles burn too low.) Reply

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