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Chapter 139:6
Chanukah

6. It is universally accepted ("minhag pashut") in these regions (1) [to light the Chanukah candles] according to the custom of [those who the Talmud refers to as] "mehadrin min hamehadrin" (2); that is, each person in the household lights (on his own menorah) one candle on the first night, two on the second, adding one daily, until the eighth night when he will light eight.

Care must be taken that each person place his candles in a separate place, so that it will be obvious how many candles each person lit. Furthermore, the candles should not be lit in a place where candles are placed throughout the year, so that it will be obvious they are being lit for the sake of Chanukah.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) The area around Hungary in the late 19th century.

(2) The word "mehadrin" comes from the word "hidur" which means "beauty," and refers to those who make their mitzvos beautiful (See Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 4:1: "Mehader es ha'mitzvos"). We are encouraged to purchase beautiful mitzvah objects, such as a beautiful lulav, a beautiful shofar and beautiful tzitziz, based on the verse in Exodus 15:2: "This is my G-d, and I will make Him beautiful."

Regarding Chanukah, the Talmud states that there are three levels of fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting candles:

a) One can fulfill the mitzvah by lighting one candle per household per night.

b) Those who are "mehadrin" have each member of the family light one candle on each night of Chanukah.

c) Those who are "mehadrin" beyond mere "mehadrin" ("mehadrin min hamehadrin") light one candle on the first night, and add one extra candle on each subsequent night, ending with eight candles on the final night. The custom of the Ashkenazim is for each member of the family to light his own menorah, whereas the Sefardim light one menorah per household.

 

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