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There is a custom brought by the Rema to leave an additional candle lit during the lighting of the Menorah at Hanukkah. Does this candle need to be lit for the sake of the mitzvah, or can one use a candle that is already lit (assuming all other necessary requirements are being fulfilled (e.g distinction, etc.))?

  • What about turning on a lightbulb for this express purpose – Double AA Dec 7 '15 at 23:58
  • Since the chanukkah lights cannot be used for any normal purpose (such as reading, seeing / walking through a dark room) the shamash is there not to help you light the other lights (though you could use it for that purpose) but so that you have a normal light to use. So you can use a designated shamash candle, or a match, or anything you like. We have oil menorahs and so you cant even use the shamash to light the others, everything gets lit with a bic bbq lighter – Aaron Dec 8 '15 at 2:48
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The point of the shamash is to have a light that is not lit for the sake of the mitzvah so that one is not "using" the chanukah lights. Thus it cannot be for the sake of the mitzvah.

Note that the Shamash is not lit for a mitzvah at all. That is, since it is lit only for the sake of not "using" the chanukah lights, it does not have a "mitzvah" and thus, any light left on in the room can be used. It is just easier and has become the custom to have a shamash attached to the menorah to ensure that this is done.

For example, if the electric light is left on in the room, that would be sufficient but it is possible that someone could forget and turn it off. Thus, the shamash attached to the menorah shows that you mean to have the "extra" light on.

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    I think he means "for the sake of the mitzvah [of having a shamash]" – Double AA Dec 8 '15 at 2:26
  • @DoubleAA I hope that the additional note made clear what is meant. – sabbahillel Dec 8 '15 at 13:28

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