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If the reason we light candles on Chanukah is as a commemoration for the fact that the lights of the menorah burned for 8 days on fuel that was only sufficient for 1, why don't we light our menorahs in the same way the menorah was lit in the beis hamikdash? Meaning, why don't we light all 8 (or, if we really wanted to emulate the way the menorah was lit, 7) candles each day of Chanukah?

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You want to light seven 192-hour candles? – Double AA Dec 9 '12 at 1:57
@DoubleAA no, just 8(/7) candles that last the halachic minimum. Although, the fact that we could actually light 192 hour candles sorta makes the miracle seem pretty feeble – not-allowed to change my name Dec 9 '12 at 2:04
Are you asking why the basic mitzva is one instead of seven, or why the mehadrin min hamehadrin (the best way to do the mitzva) is increasing from one to eight? – Double AA Dec 9 '12 at 3:36

2 Answers 2

The purpose of lighting is to publicise the miracle and not as a commemoration (in the sense of re-enactment) of the miracle of the oil. See Rashi on מבחוץ. Shabbos 21b .

Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel give different reasons for why they light in decreasing and increasing numbers of lights respectively.

The reasons are B”S – the days that are to come or the bull offerings of Sukkos (which decrease) and B”H – the days that have gone or because we increase in holiness and not decrease.

The reason for the changing number is not related directly to the miracle of the oil.

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Rashi just says "משום פרסומי ניסא" I don't see how that indicates what the mitzva should be like. If you want to say it's not in some way re-enacting the original miracle, then why light candles? Why not post signs? – Double AA Dec 10 '12 at 17:24
And it is pretty strongly related, because it is directly related to the number of days in the holiday which is directly related to the length of the miracle of teh oil. – Double AA Dec 10 '12 at 17:25
@DoubleAA I take your points! But will you agree that the second reasons of B"H and B"S are not related to the oil? – Avrohom Yitzchok Dec 10 '12 at 17:56
Yes, but they could just be reasons for once we decide to do things in a progressing way, which way should that be? We still have to find out why we chose to use a progressing way, instead of a constant 7 (or something like that). – Double AA Dec 10 '12 at 17:58

An alternative approach.

The answer to this question could depend on the answer to the question of the Beit Yosef as to why we celebrate Chanukah for eight days if we are celebrating the miracle (Shabbat 21b) that oil that should have lasted for only one day lasted for eight. We should celebrate Chanukah for seven days, since only seven days of the burning of the oil were miraculous!

The following two reasons (text taken from) (and) of the Beit Yosef himself might lead us to say that we increase the number of lights each day to symbolise our increasing wonder at the repetition of the miracle rather than lighting all 8 lights every day.

1) Those who were preparing the Menorah for lighting knew that it would take eight days until new oil could be obtained. They therefore divided the flask into eight parts, so that at least the Menorah would be lit every day, albeit not for the entire day. A miracle occurred and the small amount of oil that was placed in the Menorah each day lasted an entire day. Hence, there was a miracle on the first day as well.

2) On the first night, the contents of the flask were emptied into the Menorah. This would enable the Menorah to be lit for one entire day. However, after filling the Menorah, it was discovered that the flask miraculously was still full. This miracle repeatedly occurred for each of the days. Hence, there was a miracle on each of the eight days.

This does not seem to work for the first answer of the Beit Yosef that:

they split the supply they had into eight parts. Thus, on each of the eight days a miracle occurred, since oil that should have lasted for an eighth of a night lasted an entire night.

A full analysis of all the answers to the Beit Yosef's question is obviously needed.

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