There are not very many requirements for a kosher menorah, and most—but not all—of the menorahs on the market are just fine. The basic elements of the menorah are eight candle (or oil) holders, and one more, that is set a bit higher or lower than the rest, for the shamash (attendant) candle.
That said, there are some factors to consider when purchasing a menorah:
- The Chanukah lights can be either wax candles, or oil-fueled lights. Since the miracle of Chanukah transpired with olive oil—the little jug of oil that lasted for eight days—the oil menorah is preferable to the candle one, and olive oil is the ideal fuel.
- Whenever purchasing a mitzvah article, we try to buy the most beautiful one that is within our means. So, if at all possible, go for the silver menorah. Beautifying a mitzvah is our way of expressing our appreciation to G‑d, and how dearly we hold His commandments. (A beautiful menorah also makes for a beautiful centrepiece for your silver closet or mantelpiece . . .)
- The eight candles of the menorah’s lights should be level or on an even slant, not some randomly higher than others.
- If it is an oil menorah, the oil cups must hold enough oil to burn for at least 1½ hours.
- Just in case you are considering constructing a mammoth menorah to better publicize the Chanukah miracle, the maximum height of a menorah is around 31 feet. People don’t normally look up higher than that height, and a menorah taller than that wouldn’t serve the intended purpose.
I think that about sums it up… tune in tomorrow to learn about the actual lighting of the menorah. In the mean time, enjoy today’s recipe!