Why Does a Chanukiya Look Like That?

The chanukiya below is from 18th Century, Venice, Italy. It is part of the collection at the National Library of Israel.

1. Describe the chanukiya.

2. Which features of the chanukiya do you think are required by halacha (Jewish law)?

Italy, Venice, 18th century

From the collection of the National Library of Israel

Read the texts below and write which feature of the Venice chanukiya is being described.

Feature #1

(Translation integrated with Rav Steinsaltz's commentary)

אמר רבא צריך נר אחרת להשתמש לאורה

Rava said: One must kindle another light in addition to the Hanukkah lights in order to use its light, as it is prohibited to use the light of the Hanukkah lights.

Feature described:

Reason for the feature:

Feature #2

(ג) ... וּמוֹסִיפִין וְהוֹלְכִין נֵר בְּכָל לַיְלָה עַד שֶׁנִּמְצָא מַדְלִיק בְּלֵיל שְׁמִינִי שְׁמוֹנָה נֵרוֹת ...

... We add a new candle on each and every night, until on the eighth night eight candles are lit...

Feature described:

The source below relates a famous disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding the number of lights that we light each night. Although the design of the chanukiya would be the same for both schools of thought, each has its own approach.

(Translation integrated with Rav Steinsaltz's commentary)

... ב"ש אומרים יום ראשון מדליק שמנה מכאן ואילך פוחת והולך וב"ה אומרים יום ראשון מדליק אחת מכאן ואילך מוסיף והולך

... Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, he kindles one light. And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, he kindles eight lights.

What was Beit Shamai's progression for lighting the chanukiya?

What was Beit Hillel's progression for lighting the chanukiya?

Feature #3

(ד) הַגָּה: וְלָכֵן יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר לְהַעֲמִיד הַנֵּרוֹת בְּשׁוּרָה בְּשָׁוֶה, וְלֹא בְּעִגּוּל דְּהָוֵי כִּמְדוּרָה (הג''מ בְּשֵׁם סְמַ''ק); וּמֻתָּר לְהַדְלִיק בְּפָּמוֹטוֹת שֶׁקּוֹרִין לַאמְפָּ''א, מֵאַחַר שֶׁכָּל נֵר מֻבְדָּל הַרְבֵּה מֵחֲבֵרוֹ (ת''ה סִימָן ק''ה). וְיִזָּהֲרוּ כְּשֶׁעוֹשִׂים נֵרוֹת, אֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁעֲוָה, שֶׁאֵין לְדַבְּקָן בְּיַחַד וּלְהַדְלִיקָן, דְּהָוֵי כִּמְדוּרָה (פִּסְקֵי מַהֲרִי''וּ ס''ה); אֲפִלּוּ בְּנֵרוֹת שֶׁל שַׁבָּת וְיוֹם טוֹב יִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן (אוֹר זָרוּעַ).

(4)Rem"a: Therefore one should be careful to place the lights in a straight row and not in a circle, since that is like a bonfire. (Hagahot Maimoniot quoting Sefer Mitzvot Katan) It is permitted to kindle with candlesticks, since each light is separated greatly from the other. (Terumat Hadeshen Section 105) One must be careful when preparing lights, even of wax, not to stick them together and kindle them, since that is like a bonfire. (Piskei Mahar"i 65) Even with the lights of the Sabbath and Holy Days one must be careful not to do so. (Or Zarua)

What features are described in the text above?

Feature #4

(א) כָּל הַשְּׁמָנִים וְהַפְּתִילוֹת כְּשֵׁרִים לְנֵר חֲנֻכָּה, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הַשְּׁמָנִים נִמְשָׁכִים אַחַר הַפְּתִילָה וְאֵין הָאוּר נִתְלֶה יָפֶה בְּאוֹתָם הַפְּתִילוֹת. הַגָּה: וּמִיהוּ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר (מָרְדְּכַי וְכָל בּוֹ וּמַהֲרִי''ל), וְאִם אֵין שֶׁמֶן זַיִת מָצוּי מִצְוָה בִּשְׁמָנִים שֶׁאוֹרָן זַךְ וְנָקִי; וְנוֹהֲגִים בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ לְהַדְלִיק בְּנֵרוֹת שֶׁל שַׁעֲוָה, כִּי אוֹרוֹ צָלוּל כְּמוֹ שֶׁמֶן...

(1) Paragraph 1 — All oils and wicks are fit for use for the Hanukkah light, even if the oils are not drawn after the wick, and the illumination is not held well by those wicks. Rema: However, olive oil is a choice mitzvah, (Mordechai, Kol Bo and Mahari"l) and if olive oil is not available it is a mitzvah with oils whose illumination is pure and clean, and we have the custom in these countries to kindle with wax candles since their illumination is clear like oil.

What feature of the chanukiya makes it possible to use the prefered fuel for burning?

Putting it all Together:

How does the chanukiya pictured on the top of the sheet fulfill all of the requirements for a kosher (proper) chanaukiya?

Now It's Your Turn

Create or draw your own chanukiya that follows all of the rules mentioned in the texts above. Take a picture of it and add it to the source sheet.