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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Laws of Hanukkah

The Remaining Chanukah Oil

When buying oil for Chanukah, one should not say, “This oil is for Chanukah,” for some authorities hold that by making such a statement one dedicates all of the oil for Chanukah candles alone, including that which remains in the bottle after Chanukah.
Dedicated to the memory of
Hana Bat Haim
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The Shulchan Arukh (677:4) teaches us that regarding "what remains on the eighth day of the oil that was needed for the lights to burn for the required time, one should make a fire and burn it by itself. This is because this oil was set aside for fulfilling this command. If this oil mixed with other oil and there is not sixty times as much of the permitted oil to nullify the forbidden oil, there is an authority who says that one should not add permitted oil to the mixture in order to nullify the forbidden oil."

Kaf HaChaim writes that "if something remained of the oil or the wick on the first night, one adds to it and lights it on the second night; if there remained from the second night, one adds to it on the third, and so forth in this manner. This applies when one prepares no more than the required amount of oil and the light goes out before it is supposed to, or even if one prepared more than was required and designated it [for the purpose of Chanukah candle lighting]. In such cases it becomes permissible for the following night."

And when one buys oil for Chanukah, one should not say, "This oil is for Chanukah," for there are authorities who hold that by making such a statement one effectively dedicates all of the oil for Chanukah candles alone, including that which remains in the bottle after Chanukah.

Some authorities hold that if oil remains in such a case, one should save it for next year. But it is best not to do this, for it is possible to forget and inadvertently use the oil during the course of the year. Therefore, it is proper to state that the oil one buys is also for Chanukah, and then if one should want to use it for some other purpose, one is permitted to do so.

According to Jewish law, Chanukah candles must remain lit for half an hour after the stars come out. If a person states, "I am preparing the candles with oil so that they burn for half an hour, and after this time I will extinguish the lights or use the remaining oil," it is indeed permitted to use this oil. However, he should not use them in public because of those who see and are unaware that he made such a condition. And if he did not make this condition, we assume that his intention was that all the oil be used for Chanukah lights.

Parenthetically, one difficulty raised with regard to the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh cited at the outset is the question of why the oil should be burned. After all, this is a rabbinic prohibition, and the rule in such cases is that we add to the mixture and thus nullify its forbidden element.

For example, if milk became mixed with chicken soup and the mixture contains less than sixty parts soup in relation to the milk, we add water until a sixty-to-one ratio is reached, and this nullifies the milk. Similarly, if poultry fell into milk, and there is less than sixty parts milk in relation to the meat, we add milk or water in order to nullify the taste of the chicken.

For solutions to this difficulty, see Rambam (Frankel addition, Sefer Halikutim, pg. 638, "Ve-lo Haya Bo").

In closing, it is written that all of the Sanctuary vessels which Moses made continue to exist, as it is written, "And you shall make upright (i.e., enduring) boards for the tabernacle" (Exodus 26:15), and we look forward to seeing Moses' menorah when the Messiah comes.

May we see it and rejoice, and may God protect us from terrorists and from all those who wish to cause us hardship. May God nullify their evil schemes and destroy their wicked thoughts, and may we merit the arrival of the redeemer, and the speedy restoration of the Temple, Amen.
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Translated portions of Shulchan Arukh in the above article were taken from or based upon Davka's CD-ROM edition of Feldheim's Mishnah Berurah.

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