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I am an elderly man and I am hesitant to use Chanukah candles...

I am an elderly man and I am hesitant to use Chanukah candles...

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Question:

Is it permissible to use an electric menorah? I am an elderly man and I am hesitant to use wax candles.

Answer:

I understand your concerns about having burning candles in your house. As much as I wish I could tell you otherwise, electric lights just don't do it. The Chanukah lights used to fulfill the mitzvah should be real flames fueled by wax or oil—like the flames in the Holy Temple Menorah.

Here is a suggestion on how to do it safely:

Use tea lights (small wax candles which come in tin cups). They are very sturdy and short so they don't tip over easily. You can get them in any grocery store and they are quite inexpensive.

Chances are that they are too big to fit in your menorah. In that case, I would advise that you just line them up on a plate (or another fireproof surface), and place the shamash tea light slightly apart from the rest.

If you still feel unsafe, you can extinguish the candles after they have burned the required half hour after nightfall (though this is not normally recommended).

Consult with your rabbi if you find yourself under extenuating circumstances that absolutely do not allow for lighting a candle or oil menorah.

Wishing you a happy and safe Chanukah!

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
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Lisa Providence, RI December 25, 2016

Afraid to use Chanukah Candles I have an electric menorah for the same reason. Don't be afraid, just use it! Reply

David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay Toronto Ontario, Canada November 26, 2013

Alternative to candles or oil With so many people unaware that an electric menorah is not acceptable as I mentioned in my case, maybe one could induce the manufacturers of these electric versions to consider a battery operated version to be made and used extensively in places like a hospital or nursing home... or for someone like the questioner who is afraid of using fire and i assume he is living at home alone..I've also noticed that some of the Menorahs made are not able to to allow the candles to burn reasonably well with candles burning out faster when they are close together.There used to be one made of a solid metal that had the shamash clearly OFF to the side and elevated .. instead of in the middle. while the chanukiah may look nice there is quite a problem in how to keep the candles burning evenly. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org November 24, 2013

Re: Alternative to candles or oil You are correct that in situation that there really are no other options, some Rabbis suggest lighting a flashlight (as opposed to an electrical Menorah that is connected to the socket). However, this is only done in situations (similar to yours) where there really are no other options. Furthermore, when doing so, one would light without making the blessing. The reason for this is that there are many who hold that this method is invalid. In light of this, one should consult their Rabbi if the need arises, but this method should not be used when there are other possible solutions. Reply

David Aharon Lindzon-Lindsay Toronto Ontario, Canada November 24, 2013

Alternative to candles or oil I was in the hospital one year during Chanukah where they will not allow a candle...Rabbi Uri Kaufman, Rabbi of Agudah South , an Orthodox synagogue in Toronto, suggested the use of a flashlight can be used to fulfill the Mitzvah of Lighting a Menorah ... He explains that Both are not attached to a source that is infinite like a wall socket in the wall .. If we could manufacture a Menorah hat runs on Batteries we could use them instead of candles or oil since both have a limited source of fuel. Reply

Brian Ridgewood, NY February 18, 2013

did you read the article? It's not that hard to have real fire and still be safe. Reply

Shelly February 18, 2013

I'm no religious expert, but I know that no G-d I will believe in would rather someone risk their life to light an actual candle than use an electric substitute and still commemorate the spirit of the holiday. Holidays are for the SPIRIT, not rules and regulations to mask the spirit. If your heart and soul is behind the electirc menorah, then you are celebrating our people's perseverence. Lighting candles that may result in inadvertant fires, injury, and death? Not so much. Reply

Eli December 11, 2007

good one, rabbi Posner Great answer! Rabbis don't just need to be learned and wise--they also need to be practical! Reply

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