Lighting the Hanukkah candles is an important part of commemorating the eight-day Festival of Lights. This traditional Jewish ceremony is not only a beautiful symbolic act, it is also a reminder of the miracle that occurred more than 2,000 years ago in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Lighting the candles is an important ritual of the holiday, involving the placement of the candles in a special Hanukkah menorah, and saying special blessings.
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What Candles Are Used?
The Hanukkah menorah, also known in Hebrew as a “hanukkiah,” holds nine candles. One shamash (servant) candle is usually placed in the center of the menorah. The shamash candle is used to light the other eight candles. The candles are typically placed in two lines of five or three lines of three. It is important to use only candles that are meant specifically for use in a menorah; they should not be use tealights or standard candles.
What Order Do You Light The Candles?
The Hanukkah candles are lit from right to left, starting with the candle farthest to the right. The shamash candle is lit first and then used to light the other candles. After all the candles are lit, the blessings are recited. On the first night of Hanukkah, the shamash is used to light a single candle. On the second night, two candles are lit, and so on until all eight candles are lit.
When Should The Candles Be Lit?
In the Ashkenazi tradition, the candles are lit just at sunset. In the Sephardic tradition, the Hanukkah candles are lit shortly before sunset. The specific customs of each family may also differ.
What Blessing Is Recited?
The blessing for the Festival of Lights is recited when lighting each candle. On the first night of Hanukkah, you first say the blessing while holding the shamash. Then you light the candle and say the blessing again. On the second night, two strains of the blessing are said with the shamash and then each candle. The blessing is:
- Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, Asher Kiddishanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu L’hadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah.
- (Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah).
Lighting the candles for Hanukkah is an important ritual of the holiday, and a way to celebrate and remember the miracle that happened thousands of years ago. As you light each candle, be sure to recite the special Hanukkah blessing. As the light of each candle is lit, you can remember that from darkness comes light, and from the shadows of oppression comes freedom.
On the last night of Hanukkah, it is traditional to have a festive celebration and exchange gifts. Enjoy the lights, the company of family and friends, and the miracle of Hanukkah.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.