Shabbat 21 - Oils unusable on Shabbat

Having discussed the wicks that don't make a good light on Shabbat, we now turn to oils that are not drawn after the wick and that are therefore prohibited for Shabbat use. The first one is the "kik" oil. What is it? Shmuel said, "I asked all the seafarers, and they told me that there is a bird found in seaport cities, and its name is 'kik', and it is oil made of that bird." Rabbi Yitzhak said that it is cottonseed oil, but Resh Lakish maintains that it is oil of the tree under which the prophet Jonah rested, called "kikayon." Rabbah bar bar Channah said, "I myself have seen Jonah's plant, and it grows in ponds, merchants hang it above their stores' entrances, its seeds produce oil, and under its branches rest all the sick of the Land of Israel."

All the oils prohibited for use in Shabbat lamps are also prohibited for use in the Hanukkah menorah, on weekdays as well as on Shabbat - this is the opinion of Rav Huna. What is his reason? He maintains that the Hanukkah light needs to be rekindled if it goes out, and with those unfit oil the danger of him negligently forgetting to rekindle is too great.

Rav Chisda says that these oils may be used for Hanukkah on weekdays but not on Shabbat. Why? According to him, one does not need to re-light the menorah. Thus, weekdays with imperfect oil are not a problem. On Shabbat, however, one may tilt the lamp to improve the light, for example, for reading - which may happen, because Rav Chisda does permit to use the lights of Hanukkah for personal needs.

Finally, Rav permits these oils for the menorah for all days. On weekdays it is not a problem, because Rav does not require him to rekindle the light if it goes out. On Shabbat it is not a problem either, because Rav does not allow to use the light of Hanukkah for personal need, and thus one will not come to tilt the lamp.

Art: Wolfgang Heimbach - Man with oil lamp