Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chanukkah: Chanukiah Part II

First of all, I'd like to post a message that Yitz Jordan, aka Y-Love sent to Harley and myself, and a number of other bloggers. According to him: A set of ready-to-light Chanukah lights are a potential fire hazard and are causing damage to homes which use them. This product must be removed from Jewish stores at once. Chanukah Oil Candles as distributed by Ahron's Judaica are a potentially life-threatening hazard. He even provides some rather harrowing images of the melted candles on a menorah.

Secondly, on a more positive note (sort of) my Mom bought me a Chanukiah. Cute, right? She bought me a very pretty silver one, complete with candles; the type that you can keep for a lifetime. The only issue? It isn't kosher.

This is a kosher chanukiah. See how all of the branches are at the same height? All eight in a line? With an extra higher/same height shamash (worker candle)? That is basically all that is required.

Below is an image of the chanukiah that I recieved. In a Madden-esque touch, I've circled the relevant parts.
See how the branches are of differing heights? And how there are only eight branches? Pretty, but unkosher. Now, I do not blame my mother for this. Her formal Jewish education is limited, and she has learned what she can as an adult. You know who I do blame? West Side Judaica. They sold my mother an unkosher chanukiah without even mentioning: "hey, not sure if you care, but thought that you might want to know, this chanukiah does not fulfill the mitzvah of lighting candles on Chanukkah." Seriously, that was jerk of them. So now I have to bring it back, which I HATE doing, a) because now my mom feels like an idiot, b) because I hate returning things, and c) because it is f*ing heavy.


babytyrone said...

I got the same chanukiah for a present about fifteen years ago, and it just sits on a shelf looking pretty. Apparently it is called the "tree of life menorah" and is very popular. Years later, I met the family that was originally responsible for its distribution -- an orthodox family -- and the father mentioned that judaica stores were supposed to caution people that it was really just an art piece, but that he was sure none of them really ever did.

A related note: seven years ago, when I moved to Palo Alto, CA, I needed new mezuzahs. So I went to the one judaica store in the area and bought some wooden mezuzahs and then asked if they sold the scrolls to go in them. "Yes," the girl told me, "of course. Do you want kosher or non-kosher?" I looked at her blankly. "Kosher is 40 bucks, and the non-kosher is only five." Eventually I determined that while the kosher one came from a sofer and was ok in every respect, the non-kosher klaf waa actually just a xerox copy of the kosher one. On paper. Out of curiosity, after shelling out 120 bucks for three kosher ones, I asked which sold better. The non-kosher one -- by far.

My conclusion: your mother aside, I doubt telling people about the halachic status of a chanukiah makes much difference. Apparently there are plently of people, at least in California, who bother to put mezuahs on their doors, but put inside them scrolls that were sold to them as "non-kosher" .

AnnieGetYour said...

Babytyrone- if it doesn't make much difference, then people should always be informed. My only worry is that it would seem to be patronizing.

And why the F would I/anyone want a Chanukiah-shaped art piece?

I mean, I actually guess that I can see people who don't feel that halakha is binding, but like the traditional aspect using a paper klaf, or non-kosher chanukiah, but there should definitely be a warning on them.

Aunt L. said...

Actually, there is another view about this. I have been told by a Conservative rabbi that, while the requirement is often/usually interpreted to mean that the candles must all be on the same level, that the actual halacha is that they NOT be a medurah, often translated as something like "campfire," but really meaning a bunch of indistinguishable flames. In other words, the flames must be distinct enough that one is able to determine at a glance what night of Chanukah it is, and that the shamash must be distinctly higher or lower or otherwise apart. If that interpretation is followed, the chanukiah in question is kosher.

Anonymous said...

I wasn’t going to say anything but babytyrone just brought it out of me.

Kosher is wonderful word isn't it? The status of kosher scrolls, sofars and food is controlled by a group of corrupt rabbis who force the price of these sacred goods.

It is sickening to see that Jews will force people to buy thousands of thousands of dollars to be able to live a Jewish life. Isn't it great when people living in Palo Alto and UWS can sit and talk about the shandah of non-kosher goods, but feel fine neglecting the fact that is costs a fortune to afford what is forced upon them.

How many times does it explain such kosher issues in the Torah? How many times do we hear about fighting poverty?

AnnieGetYour said...

Aunt L- thanks, the guys at West Side Judaica tried to say the same thing, but my posek (halakhic authority) agreed with me that it was not a kosher chanukiah, so I returned it and got a far less attractive one.

Liberal Jew- I actually wrote about this topic a few months ago, it is called "Not A Sexy Post." I complained that the cost of an Orthodox lifestyle is prohibitive, and I still feel that way. I don't know that I'd blame rabbis for it though-- any time that you have a specialty good for a specialty market it is more expensive to produce than something that can be mass marketed.

Yes, kosher scrolls are expensive, but that is because they are made of goat (?) skin, and some guy actually has to inscribe them. As for kosher food, I do believe that it is a racket, and I plan to some day open my own dairy farm, but that is a different topic for a different day.

harley said...

If Annie opens a dairy farm, I am so getting in on that. Seriously.