Shabbat or Hanukkah candles: Which come first?

חנוכיה
צילום: פלאש90
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Imagine that you have enough money for just one thing - Shabbat candles or Hanukkah candles. Today we light six Hanukkah candles and after them Shabbat candles, but let's suppose that we don't have enough money for both. Which are more important?

Rabbi Eyal Greiner, head of a hesder yeshivah (that combines Torah learning with army service) in Moshav Tefahot up north, explains in his new book about Hanukkah that the Gemara debates this matter and reaches an unequivocal conclusion: Shabbat candles come first. We should first concern ourselves with lighting up our home on the inside, light that symbolizes shalom bayit (peace in the home), family togetherness, our private world in here. Only afterwards do we concern ourselves with lighting up the street, the world out there.

This is an important principle: With all due respect to our activity on the outside, it has no meaning when what goes on inside is lacking in light. We need to first illuminate ourselves and our homes and only then will we illuminate the world.

Shabbat shalom and happy Hanukkah.

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