When Hanuka is on a Friday night, which lights do we light first, the Shabbat or the Hanuka?
Signed, Light Right
Dear Light Right,
Light the Hanuka candles first, then the Shabbat candles. Once Shabbat candles are lighted and the blessing recited, one should not kindle any lights until after the conclusion of Shabbat.
I thought all the candles on a Hanuka Menora have to be the same height. But in the BEKI giftshop there is a Menora and the candles are not all at the same height. What gives?
Signed, Level Headed
Dear Flat Head,
Candles burn at different rates, so they will never be at exactly the same height. There are two rules for a Hanukia (Hanuka Menora). First, the lights need to be in a straight line, in at least one vertical plane, so that they can be distinguished from each other. This precludes a round Hanukia, but you don’t have to use a micron ruler to make sure your candles line up. The point is that the flames should be distinguishable from each other at the normal viewing angle. Second, the shamash must also be separate and distinguishable, and preferably higher than the others, because that is the one we use for seeing in the dark. We are not permitted to use the light of the Hanukia for any purpose other than celebrating the miracle of Hanuka, so one candle, the shamash (“utility”), is added so that we have one burning that we can use for other purposes, such as seeing in a dark room or re-igniting the Hanuka candles themselves. If your shamash is not high enough, use a longer candle.