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Is it considered a meritorious practice to have a fancy/expensive/large menorah? Normally the imperative to beautify mitzvos is related to the mitzvah item itself (e.g. talis, tefillin, esrog), so here I would assume it would mean to have beautiful candles.

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First of all, note that opinions brought in Avnei Nezer 2:500 that you need to have the candles lit in some sort of kli (vessel) and not just loose. According to these opinions, the menora itself is a mitzva object.

That said, even if you don't rule that way we have a notion of hiddur mitzva even for things that aren't direct mitzva objects such as the quill used to write Sta"m (Shabbat 133b).

The Mishna Berura (673 sk 28) does note that one should expend effort to have as nice a menorah as one can.

  • The one page that's missing on Hebrewbooks: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1344&st=&pgnum=572 – b a Dec 5 '12 at 5:20
  • @ba I know :( I tried earlier. Isn't there a way to report that to them or something? – Double AA Dec 5 '12 at 5:22
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    @Curiouser Avnei Nezer is essentially contemporary to those sources. See also Rivevot Efraim 1:434:2 who seems to treat not having a menorah as a bedieved. – Double AA Dec 6 '12 at 16:27
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    @Curiouser I saw in Nefesh HaRav over Shabbat that Rav Soloveitchik ruled strongly against the Avnei Nezer. – Double AA Dec 18 '12 at 18:23
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    @Curiouser I guess my main point is that we are not bound to paskin against him, and any posek worth his salt could still choose to paskin that way if he wanted to. – Double AA Dec 3 '13 at 17:09
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Meseches Sofrim 20 seems to imply as much.

One may not light an old lamp; one who only has an old lamp may whiten it well in fire, and that is permitted.

cf this lecture (around the 22 min mark)

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