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Hanukah – What Does One Do With the Oil Left Over After the Last Night?

The Shulhan Aruch, in Siman 677 (listen to audio recording for precise citation), discusses the status of oil that is left over in the Menorah after the Hanukah candles have gone out.  He writes that oil which was placed for the minimum half-hour of lighting is considered designated for Misva use and is therefore forbidden for other purposes.  Meaning, if a person placed in the oil cups precisely one half-hour’s worth of oil, and the candles were extinguished before a half-hour passed, the leftover oil is forbidden for personal use, and one must burn that oil, since it had been designated for the Misva of Hanukah candles.  He may not even save it for the next year’s Hanukah candle lighting, as we are concerned that he may mistakenly use it before then for personal purposes.

Generally speaking, however, we place much more than a half-hour’s worth of oil; we usually fill the cups with enough oil to burn for several hours, and not just for the half-hour that is required according to the strict Halacha.  The leftover oil, therefore, is permissible for personal use, since only the oil designated for the first half-hour is endowed with the special status of oil set aside for the Misva.

The Shulhan Aruch adds that a person may stipulate before pouring the oil into the cups that he does not want it to become forbidden for personal use.  Such a stipulation is effective in allowing one to use the leftover oil, even if it had been especially designated for the first half-hour.

Likewise, the Shulhan Aruch writes that if one places a plate underneath the candles to catch the overflow oil, he should stipulate beforehand that the oil should not become forbidden.  Otherwise, the oil could become forbidden, if it had been designated for the Misva of the first half-hour of the candles’ burning.

If a person purchased a bottle of olive oil for lighting the Hanukah candles, but he does not use all of it during Hanukah, he may use the leftover oil for personal purposes, such as for seasoning salads.  Only oil that had actually been used for the Misva becomes forbidden, and therefore the leftover oil in the bottle is entirely permissible for use.

The glass cups in which one lights the Hanukah candles are entirely permissible for any kind of use; they do not become forbidden by being used for the Hanukah candles.

It is customary to save the wicks that were used for the Hanukah candles and burn them together with the Hametz on Ereb Pesah.  Since they were used with one Misva, we want to “recycle” them with another Misva.  For the same reason, it is customary to save the Lulab and Arabot from Sukkot and burn them with the Hametz on Ereb Pesah.  Once an object has been used for a Misva, we want to use it again for another Misva.

Summary: Oil that is left over in the Menorah after Hanukah may be used, except in the rare case where a person had placed exactly a half-hour’s worth of oil and some of it is left over.  One may also use oil that is left over in the bottle after Hanukah, even if the bottle was bought especially for the candle lighting, and the glass oil cups are likewise permissible for personal use.  The wicks, however, should preferably be saved and burned with the Hametz on Ereb Pesah.


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