I hope this message finds you well and in good health.
As we enter the calendar month of December, we look forward to celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah. Hanukkah begins this year on Thursday night, October 10th. On that night, we will light the first Hanukkah candle. The concepts of light, candles, flame, and fire are of course the central themes of this holiday. In the middle of the cold, dark winter, we kindle a flame for eight nights, and by doing so we help to kindle the warmth and fire of the Divine in our spirit, in our souls, and in the world at large. The closest parallel to the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles is the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles. Both mitzvahs are rabbinic in origin. Both mitzvahs entail marking the significance of a certain day (or evening) by lighting candles. It has been our privilege over the past several months to study the laws of lighting Shabbat candles in-depth in our weekly Zoom class. This class meets on Tuesday evenings at 8:30, and all are welcome to attend. Please use Zoom ID # 366 165 4053, password 6GRKs1, to access this class.
One of the themes that we have seen during this weekly study, is that while the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles is an important one, nevertheless, a person must be cautious not to delay lighting candles on Friday afternoon, and God forbid come to a situation whereby he or she violates the Shabbat by lighting candles after Shabbat has already begun. There is a hierarchy of importance in Jewish observance. While lighting Shabbat candles may be an important mitzvah, it is nonetheless of rabbinic origin. The lighting of a flame on Shabbat, by contrast, touches on the violation of Mideoraiita, Torah-origin, prohibitions. Care must therefore be exercised to light Shabbat candles early enough on Friday afternoons as to not impinge on the sanctity of Shabbat
This holds true in relation to the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles as well. On Friday evening, November 11th, we will be lighting Hanukkah candles on Erev Shabbat, the eve of Sabbath. Please be certain to light your Hanukkah candles prior to lighting Shabbat candles, and prior to the onset of Shabbat. Shabbat candle lighting on that afternoon is quite early, at 4:06. Let us all make certain that our celebration of the wonderful holiday of Hanukkah not interfere with the sanctity of Shabbat, and let us all be certain to budget our time on that day to ensure that we will have sufficient time to light Hanukkah candles prior to lighting Shabbat candles at 4:06.
Wishing you and yours a Hanukkah of light and joy and a month of only good tidings,
Rabbi Peretz Robinson