The Jewish Eye
Electric Menorah - Some Points From the Poskim
Most poskim hold that you cannot make a bracha on lighting an electric menorah although it does come in handy at times. There are many reasons given and we will mention a few. Not every Posek agrees with the other ones reasons. Sources worthwhile looking up are (Be'er Moshe Kuntras Electric 58-60, Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:12, Yabia Omer 3:35)
Pressing a switch is not called lighting. It is a "Grama"; only causing the lighting and not lighting itself. Most poskim (including the Rav Zvi Pesach Frank) disagree and hold that you can light through a Grama. Furthermore they hold that pushing the button is far more than Grama and is considered actually lighting.
1. You need a wick and oil. Electric is none of these. Some argue and say that the wires are the wick and oil is not necessary at all.
2. You must have the shiur of oil in front of you when you make the bracha. Here the electricity that you will use in a few minutes is not yet here. Moreover when you say the bracha there is absolutely nothing present with you at the time. Those who hold you don't need oil at all argue here as well.
3. The electric light is considered an "Avuka" a torch, it is not a single wick. Multiple wicks for one flame are Pasul. This opinion draws the consensus of both the Tzitz Eliezer and Be'er Moshe.
An important point to note is that the basis for all the leniencies regarding Chanukah lights, as opposed to other Halachic lighting, is that Chanukah is for Pirsum HaNes and therefore many poskim hold that the method is less important. The outcome of people seeing the lights carries more weight.
With this in mind many poskim hold that if you cannot light a Kosher menorah with real flames you should light an electric menorah without a bracha. The Be'er Moshe goes as far as saying that if you are in place where can light the menorah with the right amount of oil but will be forced to extinguish it before it lights for thirty minutes, it is better to light an electric menorah that you can keep on for the entire time period without a bracha.
Disclaimer: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
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