One Light for Chanukah

I saw the comet tonight! Nice way to celebrate the second night of Chanukah!

You can see it in constellation Perseus with bare eyes, but it’s even clearer with a simple pair of binoculars. It’s beautiful.

But wait! you say. Don’t you need to see two celestial objects for the second night of Chanukah?

Well, as recently as 1500 years ago — no. Talmud says that the mitzvah of Chanukah is to light one candle for the whole household. People who want to do the mitzvah beautifully (ha-m’hadrin) light one candle for each member of the household. Only those who wanted to celebrate Chanukah super-beautifully (ha-m’hadrin min ha-m’hadrin) began with one candle and added one per night (the opinion of the School of Hillel) — or, possibly, began with 8 and subtracted one each night (the School of Shammai). Who knew? So apparently somewhere along the way it became the custom for everyone to celebrate “super-beautifully” according, of course, to the opinion of the school of Hillel.

So the one beautiful light in the sky can be, symbolically, a Chanukah light, according to the simplest and oldest way of celebrating Chanukah.

Oh and by the way, as long as I was out there I turned my binoculars on Orion’s sword, and lo and behold, I think I saw the Orion nebula (M42) in all its fuzzy glory. So there’s two.