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Using Olive Oil, Wax, Jelled Oil and Coated Wicks
For the basic mitzvah, any type of oil, wick or candle may be used.  It is preferable, however, to use olive oil because that was the type of oil used in the Beis Hamikdash when the miracle occurred. There is a preference for cotton or linen wicks because they do a superior job of keeping the flame. If wax or tallow candles are used, those that can hold a quality flame should be selected. According to Rav Shmuel Wosner, jelled olive oil can be used for Chanuka. Even though such oil could not be used in the Beis Hamikdash, it meets the requirements for Chanuka since it will liquefy and burn like regular oil. According to Rav Nissim Karelitz, ideally the oil used for lighting should be similar to that used in the Beis Hamikdash, but it is unclear whether jelled oil would have been invalid for use in the Beis Hamikdash. Many contemporary poskim hold that the wax coating on wicks does not interfere with the benefit of using oil. The wax melts instantly and it is the oil that burns. Additionally, the fine wax coating is considered insignificant to the wick. Rav Nissim Karelitz adds that the duration of the burning counts towards the original lighting. According to Rav BenZion AbbaShaul, the wax interferes with the wick and oil, and ideally it should be removed.

Hilchos Kriyas Shema 62 (page 192)
מסימן סב סעיף ב עד תחילת סימן סג

Must One Raise His Voice When Reciting Shema In a Noisy Place
May One "Recite" Blessings In One's Head
Can Shema Be Recited In Other Languages?

Must one raise his voice when reciting Shema in a noisy place?
K'riyas Shema must be recited audibly, one must be able to hear his own words; according to some, this requirement is m'doraisa. When there is too much surrounding noise to hear himself when speaking softly, there are various opinions regarding whether he fulfills this requirement by reciting it in a soft voice. Some disqualify it, some are uncertain, but the consensus of the poskim is that it qualifies as sufficiently audible. B'dieved, one fulfills his minimal obligation of K'riyas Shema even if he recited it silently, just moving his lips.
(סימן סב, סעיף ג, ס"ק ד, וביה"ל ד"ה ואם; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 5-6)

May one "recite" blessings in one's head?
Most poskim are of the opinion that hirhur (thinking the words of a blessing in one's head) is not considered like speaking and if one "recited" a blessing or K'riyas Shema through hirhur he did not fulfill his obligation; he has to recite it again audibly. Despite a minority opinion that one fulfilled his obligation if he recited a blessing (which is d'rabonon-except for Birchas Hamazon following a satiating meal which is d'oraisa) in his head, the halachah is that he must recite it again orally.
(סימן סב, ס"ק ו-ז וביה"ל ד"ה יצא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו 12)

Can Shema be recited in other languages?
Blessings, Shemoneh Esrei, and K'riyas Shema were permitted by the Gemara to be recited in any language, provided that the speaker understands the language and it is spoken by many locally. However, it is preferable to recite them only in Lashon Hakodesh. When reciting them in Lashon Hakodesh, one fulfills his obligation even if he doesn't understand at all, except for the first verse in Shema (which is commonly understood) and the first blessing of Shemoneh Esrei. The poskim rule that, since it is difficult to accurately translate many words of Kriyas Shema, in our times we may not recite it in a language other than Lashon Hakodesh.
(סימן סב, סעיף ב, ס"ק ג, וביה"ל ד"ה יכול)

  • According to most poskim one may be motzi his friend his obligation of K'riyas Shema due to the rule of shomeya k'oneh. There is dispute whether one can still be motzi after he has already fulfilled his own obligation.
  • When reciting verses or prayers, one must be careful to enunciate the words, and to separate words whose syllables would become distorted if read together.
  • When reciting "ukshartam l'os al yadecha" and "v'hayu letotafos bein einecha" one should touch his tefillin. Some have the custom to kiss their hands after touching their tefillin.

  • Reciting K'riyas Shema in different positions

  • Changes in body positions during which K'riyas Shema may not be recited

  • Reciting K'riyas Shema while driving


PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.