Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My kid came home from school one day insisting that the thing we light on Chanuka is not a m'nora but a chanukiya. I replied that that's the word most Israelis use now but that m'nora is a perfectly good word for it anyway. I then took out an Aruch Hashulchan to point out the word m'nora — but didn't find it. (He seems to use neros exclusively. I might have missed it, though: I didn't look very thoroughly.) So my question is this: am I right? I mean, I know I'm right that m'nora has long been used to mean a Chanuka-thing, but (1) what's the earliest it's attested in print and (2) what's the earliest chanukiya is attested in print? (And any other information about the prevalence of the two words.)

share|improve this question
    
Savivon, Savivon, Sov Sov Sov, Channukah hu chag tov! (What's the problem with Chanukiya ;) –  Yehoshua Dec 10 '12 at 19:54
    
Follow-up: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22693/2 –  Isaac Moses Dec 10 '12 at 20:00
    
The Gemara refers to a Menarta (a candelabra) somewhere in Shabbath. I remember it from earlier this Daf Yomi cycle, but I can't remember where exactly. –  Seth J Dec 11 '12 at 20:50
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Don't know the earliest attestation of menorah for what we light on Chanukah, but it is mentioned parenthetically in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 671:7 (and from there in Aruch Hashulchan 671:25), where it's talking about how to set up the menorah in shul. All of the rest of their references to the Chanukah lights indeed use the term נר(ות) חנוכה. I'd guess that indeed the average person in those days didn't have a specially-designed candelabra for this purpose (or if they did, it wasn't branched like the original menorah), whereas the community as a whole might have one for use in shul, hence the terminology.

As for chanukiyah, Hebrew Wikipedia says that this term was coined by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's wife Hemda in the late 19th century.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you, R'Alex! –  msh210 Dec 8 '10 at 7:09
5  
Some Sephardic Jews (Persians, I think) refer to the candelabrum itself as a "chanukah", as in "go light your chanukah." Similarly they refer to a mezuza scroll as a "shadai", "do you have a shadai on the wall yet?". I think you'd call these usages synecdoche? –  Shalom Dec 8 '10 at 13:31
4  
The mezuzah one is definitely synecdoche (using a part of something to refer to the whole). The menorah one sounds more like metonymy. –  Alex Dec 8 '10 at 20:13
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.