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According to the custom of lighting a shamash for the menorah, must it be set at a different height from the rest of the lights of the menorah? While the common practice these days is it's taller, the shamash can be lower to meet the same rule.

My question is regarding how that height difference is accomplished.

Can you simply use candles of different lengths to accomplish the rule of keeping the shamash at a different height? Meaning you either use a taller candle for the shamash or if all candles are the same height you cut one shorter to meet the same rule.

Would this work according to this custom or does the menorah itself need to be designed in such a way where the shamash is either higher or shorter? As in the metal candle holder itself is at a different height from the others by design?

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Note, this is a custom, and having it at a different height is based on Yeshayahu 6:2 (and some clever gematrias). The general wording of the halacha that brings this minhag is that the candle itself should be a higher, however that's not going to be a hard and fast rule. If you can't get the candle higher up than the rest, you are meant to put it off to the side a bit, because the main thing is that it is recognisable as separate from the holy candles of the mitzva.

Based on Yalkut Yosef 673:26

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  • Just to add, the menorah as a separate vessel designated for chanukah is not mentioned in poskim until the time of the Pri Chadash. Everyone else just used a bunch of candles or lamps in a row. So making the shamash higher was accomplished in a different way.
    – N.T.
    Dec 11, 2023 at 17:11

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