In a notable discussion between the great mishnaic schools of Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel, the question is posed whether it is better to light all eight candles of the menorah on the first day of Chanukah, or on the last one. Beit Shamai suggests that one should light all eight on the first day, subtracting a candle every subsequent day until only one is lit on the eighth day. Beit Hillel’s opinion is that we should light only one candle on the first day and slowly build up to eight lights on the eighth day. What is this conflict all about?
The menorah of Chanukah, sometimes called the chanukiah, has its roots in the menorah of the
History, the study of cause and effect in the annals of mankind, has been a serious challenge for honest historians. In many ways, interpreting history is conjecture. It is more what one would like to believe happened than what actually occurred which motivates many a historian. (Benjamin Franklin) After all, how can man ever know what really was the cause and effect in a specific instance? Sometimes, what we believe to be the cause is, rather, the effect.
The menorah of Chanuka, sometimes called the chanukiya has, as is well known, its root in the menorah of the Temple. While there are many halachoth (regulations) regarding how the biblical menorah should look and how it should be built, Rashi, the great French commentator, points to a most remarkable halachic feature that requires our attention. Regarding the instruction that the lamps need to be arranged in such a way that they are lit “towards the menorah,” (Bamidbar 8.2) Rashi comments that this means that all the lamps should point in the direction of the middle light.