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Rabbi’s Update 12/6/2023

Dear Friends:

We light the first candle of Chanukah tomorrow night. The discussion of Chanukah in the Talmud tells us that the basic mitzvah of the Chanukah lights is “ner ish u’veito”, one light per night for the entire household. Note, not “one light the first night and then adding one more each night” but rather one light per night. The Talmud then says that the mehadrin, the more observant, light one light per night per person in the household. The mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, the super punctilious, light one light the first night and add one each additional night. I’m not aware of any other observance where the baseline of what pretty much everyone actually does is what the Talmud calls mehadrin min ha-mehadrin. But at this time when the world is filled with so much darkness, we need as much light as possible.

A quick reminder on procedure. We add candles to the chanukiah from right to left so that candle 1 is the furthest right, candle 2 is the next, and so on. But we light from left to right so that the newest candle is lit first. On Shabbat, so this year on Night II, we light the chanukiah first and then the Shabbat candles -- because once we have lit the Shabbat candles we are no longer allowed to kindle or transfer a flame. On Saturday night, we follow the opposite procedure -- we do not light the chanukiah until after Havdalah.

This Shabbat, December 9, morning services will be followed by a Volunteer Appreciation Kiddush Luncheon and then a Kiddush Konversation. My topic will be “Will the Real Chanukah Please Stand Up?” I will share with you some texts, from the Talmud to the United States of the current century that will shed light on how different communities have perceived the true meaning of Chanukah.

As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.

As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.


Rabbi Charles L. Arian

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