Tonight begins the Shabbat of Chanukah and so I wanted to update you on a few matters of proper Shabbat observance during Chanukah.
This evening (actually late afternoon because Shabbat starts so early) we light the Chanukah candles prior to the Shabbat candles. Shabbat starts at 4:27 and the Chanukah candles should be lit before then. The reason that we light the Chanukah candles first is that once we have lit the Shabbat candles, Shabbat has begun and it is no longer permitted to light the Chanukah candles.
Tomorrow night we follow the reverse procedure; we light the Havdalah candle and say Havdalah and only then do we light the Chanukah candles. The reasoning is similar; since we cannot light the Chanukah candles during Shabbat, we must formally end Shabbat and then light the Chanukah candles.
I also wanted to clarify a slight change in our procedure for our Zoom on Shabbat which I first explained over Zoom two weeks ago. You may remember that when the pandemic first started and we shifted services and classes to Zoom, I had written that we were doing so contrary to official Conservative movement guidance because I felt that the guidelines which were promulgated were not possible for us to follow given the equipment that we then possessed. A few weeks into the pandemic new, somewhat more lenient, guidelines were issued. I still felt that the guidelines were more stringent than necessary but it was possible for us to follow them and so we did and do follow them.
The key concern of the current guidelines is that it should be possible to participate in our Zoom services on Shabbat without touching or operating your computer. And so the Zoom room is opened before Shabbat begins and is kept open through the end of Shabbat. But with Shabbat ending this week at 5:27 and our communal Havdalah service at 7:00 pm, it’s possible for us to shut down the Zoom after Shabbat morning services and anyone who wishes to avoid operating electronics during Shabbat can still join in our Havdalah. We will therefore be shutting down the Zoom after the end of Shabbat morning services and this practice will continue for some months until Shabbat ends at 7 or later.
If we were operating under normal conditions, tomorrow morning would be one of those rare occasions when we read from three Torah scrolls because it is both the Shabbat of Chanukah and Rosh Chodesh. We would read the first six aliyot from the first scroll (with the normal sixth and seventh readings combined as number six). For the seventh aliyah we would do the Rosh Chodesh reading from the second scroll and then as Maftir, the reading for the sixth day of Chanukah from a third scroll. Because we’re trying to minimize situations where two unrelated people need to be in close proximity to each other for more than a few seconds, we will read the Rosh Chodesh and Chanukah readings from a printed Chumash rather than Torah scrolls.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian