Each night after we light the Hanukka candles we say "Haneirot Halalu" and we say

We kindle these lights [to commemorate] the saving acts, miracles and wonders which You have performed for our forefathers, in those days at this time, through Your holy priests. Throughout the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make use of them, but only to look at them, in order to offer thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, for Your wonders and for Your salvations.

But in the Temple people used the light of the menora. Why are the hanukka lights so holy that we may not use the light (other than look at it)?

  • 2
    What did the temple people use the light for?
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 3:23
  • 4
    Does this answer your question? Clarification on "use" of Chanukah candles Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 4:21
  • 1
    The light of the Menora was not used in the Temple.
    – N.T.
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 8:56
  • This is actually a major discussion in the Gemara (Shabbos 21a and onwards).
    – N.T.
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 19:47
  • 1
    IIRC it seems to be related to the overwhelming importance of pirsumei nisa attached to the neiros. Using them removes the pirsumei nisa because it suggests to others that they are lit in order to be used, rather than in order to be megaleh the neis. I think this also goes to the larger issue of translations: "Kodesh" can be better understood (both more broadly, and in this particular context) as "separated," or "apart," rather than simply the ambiguous "holy." I would write all this as an answer, but I don't have sources on hand.
    – Yehuda
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


The Baal HaMaor (Shabbos 9a in Rif pages) explains that the reason to forbid all use of the Chanukah lights is because they commemorate the Temple Menorah from which one could not derive any benefit:

למ"ד אסור להשתמש לאורה של נר חנוכה כל תשמיש במשמע אפי' תשמיש דמצוה ותשמיש קדושה משום דקסבר כיון שהם זכר לנרות ולשמן של היכל אסורות הן בהנאה כל עיקר אפילו לקרוא בספר ואפי' לסעודת שבת ולסעודת מצוה ולמ"ד אסור להרצות מעות כנגד נר של חנוכה דוקא הרצאת מעות וכיוצא בה שהיא תשמיש רשות ושל חול וכדקא פירש טעמיה משום בזויי מצוה אבל תשמיש מצוה ותשמיש קדושה מותר להשתמש לאורה

  • What page is this in the Vilna Shas?
    – Yehuda W
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 16:07
  • @YehudaW Shabbos 9a in Rif pages
    – wfb
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 20:03

It's being used for a mitzvah: commemoration of the miracle that happened "in those days at this time".

  • Shabbos Candles are also used for a mitzva, yet we are allowed to benefit from them.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 16:12
  • @Shlomy the shabbos candles specific purpose is that it be used.
    – larry909
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 19:46

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