Lighting the Hanukkah candles is a central part of the celebration of Hanukkah and its miraculous eight nights. The Talmud explains that Jews are obligated to use the light of the Hanukkah candles as an act of thanksgiving for God’s miracles, namely the victory of the Maccabees over oppressors and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem with the oil that lasted eight days instead of one. Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, is often celebrated today using decorative Hanukkah menorah lamps, either contemporary or traditional. Read on to find out more about the Hanukkah candle lighting ritual and how to properly light the menorah.
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How to Light Hanukkah Menorah?
The Kindling of the Candles
The Hanukkah candle lighting ritual is best performed at nightfall or whenever possible throughout the evening. To begin the ritual, the person kindling the lights takes the shamash, which is a lit candle that will be used to light the other candles in the menorah. The shamash is usually placed in the center holder, apart from the eight other lights. To light the menorah, the shamash is used to light the lights going from right to left, subsequently increasing the number of flames in the menorah. On the first night of Hanukkah, one candle on the right side is lit. On the second, two candles are lit, and on the third night, three are lit, and so on until the last night of Hanukkah when all eight lights are lit.
The Blessing of the Candles
Once the lighting of the candles is complete, a blessing is recited in honor of the miracle of Hanukkah. Traditional blessings can be found in religious books or in prayer books that contain blessings said during holy holidays. For individuals that are unfamiliar with the blessing, a prayer can be said in the form of words of thanks and praise to God.
Order of Lighting
Once the shamash is lit, the following order is observed in lighting the Menorah:
- The First Night: Light one candle on the right side.
- The Second Night: Light two candles, the one on the right and then on its left.
- The Third Night: Light three candles, always from the right.
- Subsequent Nights: Light four candles on the fourth night, five on the fifth, and so on until the last night when all eight candles are lit.
The tradition of lighting the Hanukkah menorah is a reminder of the miraculous power of God and gives thanks to Him for His blessings and kindness to the Jewish people. Lighting the menorah also serves as a way to renew the commitment of faith of individuals and serve as a reminder that it is possible for God’s power to perform miracles even in the most difficult and hopeless times. Indeed, it is a sign of faith that continues to be celebrated yearly to this day.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.