Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 258

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Ask the Rabbi

11 December 1999; Issue #258

Branches of Light


Paul Schreiber from N. Miami, FL wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I own a seven-branched menorah for decorative purposes. A friend recently told me that this menorah should never be lit. Is this true and if so, why?

Dear Paul Schreiber,

The Torah commands that in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem there should be a seven-branched menorah, and that making such a menorah for private use is prohibited. Having six or eight branches is fine, so bring your menorah to a silversmith and add a branch, or take one off!


  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 141:8
  • Numbers 8

Shades of Light


Shelby from Atlanta, GA wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Hi! My close college friend is Jewish and resides in Montgomery, Alabama. She asked me to investigate if there is a particular tradition behind the colors of Chanukah candles sold in the retail stores. Or is it important that the candles be a certain color? I look forward to your reply.

Dear Shelby,

There's no tradition regarding the color of the candles; so any color is okay, even plaid! Actually, it is preferable to use olive oil lamps, to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

Please note that the small colored Chanukah candles aren't long enough to use on Friday, because the candles must be lit before sunset and must remain alight for a half hour after dark. This year, this applies both to the first day and the last day of Chanukah.

A Stitch In Time


Skip wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am doing a cross-stitch picture for a resident at a nursing home for Hanukkah and am curious as to what this means: "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham." Thank you.

Dear Skip,

It means "A great miracle happened there," referring to the miracle of the oil and the Jewish defeat of the ancient Greeks. Good luck with your picture. You are doing a wonderful mitzvah, a good deed of loving-kindness.

Old Menorahs Never Die


Arthur P. Katz from New Jersey wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

How do you properly dispose of a menorah you no longer want/need? (I bought a nicer one.)

Dear Arthur P. Katz,

Though an item not used directly for a mitzvah (such as a talit, without the tzitzit), may be discarded, it just should not be treated with disrespect. Why not give the Menorah to someone poor, who cannot afford one, or to a child?


  • Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 21:2

The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.


Re: Jericho Yiddle Riddle (Ask the Rabbi # 257):

In answer to a recent Yiddle Riddle, you wrote that Joshua's troops encircled the city of Jericho 13 times. True, they marched around the city once a day for six days, and on the seventh day they marched around seven times. However, on the seventh day they encircled the city only once. To encircle means to encompass, envelope, enclose, etc. I surmised that the number of Israelites was sufficient to encompass the entirety of the city walls; thus, they had already encircled it the moment they got into formation to march.

Re: ChoppedLiver® (

Congratulation on Ohr Somayach's ChoppedLiver® educational cartoons that you post on your Web Site. They are really great! I would like to publish them on our shul's billboard.

(Daniel Cohn, Uruguay)

Re: Art for Art's Sake ( ):

I would like to ask for your permission to translate your beautiful Ohrnet article Art For Art's Sake (Kislev 5760) into Spanish, to be included in a newsletter for the members of our community, Sucath David, here in Buenos Aires. I don't know much about the Greeks and their art, but I frankly think this article is a piece of Jewish art which really deserves to be shown. Thank you, Ohr Somayach, for your great publications and the deep insights and teachings conveyed in them.

I wish you all the best, with Torah blessings!

Re: Triple Header (Parsha Q&A, Vayishlach):

In a recent Parsha quiz, you asked: "Who was born along with Binyamin?" and answered "His two twin sisters." With all due respect to the you, the two sisters born with Binyamin were not twins. Why not? Because they were part of a set of triplets!

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