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What are the origins of the tradition to use a round 7-branch candelabra for Passover? Who uses it, when, how, and why?

I am talking about something that looks like this:

enter image description here

...Perhaps interestingly related: Source for lighting candles in a circle being OK b'dieved

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    Where have you seen this used specifically for Passover? – Double AA Apr 15 '16 at 12:12
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It is not a Passover custom. You are speaking of the normal Shabbat and Yom Tov candelabra.

There is a custom cited by Mishnah Berurah 263:6 to light seven or ten candles. This could be a reason why silversmiths make seven branched candelabras beside the custom referred to below.

A woman lights candles for her family before Shabbat and Yom Tov. The custom is to add a candle to the original two for each child. That is a woman would light two candles for Shabbat, one for shamor and on for zachor. She would than add an additional candle for each child that she has. Once she is already lighting a certain number of candles for Shabbat, she may not decrease that number (which accounts for the same number on Yom Tov).

One reason can be that if a woman forgets, then she adds an additional candle the following weeks. Once she lights an additional candle, she continues doing so. However,many people separate the two customs since it is not a case of "forgetting" but of being forced not to light (and the husband will light for the household).

That would mean a custom of lighting one (above the basic two) for each additional member of the household.

When visiting someone, the custom is to light two so as not to cause difficulties for the host.

I should note that my wife lights one additional for each child even though she did not miss a shabbos for every child, and one additional one for a Shabbos in which she was ill and fell asleep before Shabbos after I had left for shul.

The five branched candlestick would be for a family with three children, the seven branched for five children, etc.. However, many people get this so as to not have to buy additional candle sticks as each child comes along or are given one as a gift. Others will get the bigger one after the children have arrived and they can afford the expense.

שמירת שבת כהלכתה bring the reason for the common מנהג to add a licht per child in the family.

In times gone by, the new mother would stay in hospital for a number of days following birth, and would generally not be in a position to light שבת licht the first שבת following the birth of a child. Therefore the mother has a din of one who forgot to light, for which the הלכה is that they must light an extra candle every week for the rest of her life!

Shabbos Candles goes into detail about various minhagim and cites the sources. It says that the wide spread minhag of one extra per child is not addressed explicitly in the classical meforshim. That seems to be why it is connected to the addition of a forgotten candle.

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While the answerers who preceded me are correct that this seems no different from the regular candelabrum for any other holiday or Shabas, I'll note that Shulchan Aruch (472:2) says:

He should set his table (for the seder on Pesach) with nice receptacles to the extent of his ability.

Magen Avraham (paraphrased also in Mishna B'rura) explains:

All year, it's good to minimize nice receptacles, as a memorial for the [Temple's] destruction. However, on the night of Pesach, he should increase nice receptacles.

Hence, you may have seen this candelabrum on the table on Pesach only.

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I think that the answer is "simpler" than what sabbahillel mentioned. In the picture, I see a total of 8 "cups".

I know that this may sound strange, but, I have seen some people use an 8 cup menorah rather than the 9 cup one that you commonly see. The 9th cup is for the shamash, and some people don't specifically place this on the menorah at all.

Some silversmiths have made "combo" candelabra / menorahs. For Shabbat and holidays, the branches swing around and for Chanukah, you can put them in a straight line to form a menorah. On many of them, the branches are also detachable, so someone who doesn't need all of them can remove them for Shabbat and attach them for Chanukah.

  • The picture is a round one and does not appear to allow the straightening you mention to convert to a chanukiya. Also the question asks about a seven cup even though the picture is a nine cup. I think that he means the genric round candlabra used for Shabbos and Yom Tov. – sabbahillel Apr 15 '16 at 13:44
  • @sabbahillel It's a bit hard to tell what's happening in this pic. OP can clarify, perhaps. Actually, the filigree style in the pic, is a common style, and I have seen this style made with swinging branches. – DanF Apr 15 '16 at 14:02

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