Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most popular Jewish holidays. It is celebrated in many Jewish communities throughout the world. The holiday celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the ancient Temple of Jerusalem was re-dedicated. As part of the celebration, Jews light a nine-branched candelabrum, or menorah, for eight nights. The central light of the menorah is known as the shamash and is used to light the other candles. The number of lights in the menorah and the special prayers said while lighting them vary by custom and tradition.
Another custom is to arrange the nine candles in a semi-circle with the shamash in the centre. This particular arrangement is used by some communities to signify the importance of the mitzvah (commandment) of lighting the menorah.
Lighting the Hanukkah Candles
The lighting of the Hanukkah candles is a sacred ritual that is often shared by the entire family. There is a special prayer that is said each night when lighting the candles. The prayers include blessings for the State of Israel and for Israeli soldiers who defend the country. A special blessing is also said over the children of the family.
Each night a further light is added to the menorah, so that by the eighth night the menorah stands fully illuminated. This is seen as a symbol of joy and hope that continues to increase during the holiday.
The traditional blessing said over the candles is as follows:
- Baruch atah Adonai (Blessed are You, Adonai),
- Eloheinu (our God),
- Melech haolam (the Ruler of the universe),
- asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav (who has sanctified us by His commandments)
- v’tzivanu (and commanded us),
- L’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah (to kindle the lights of Hanukkah).
The ritual of lighting the Hanukkah candles is an important part of the holiday and serves as a reminder of the dedication and commitment of the Maccabees to their faith in ancient times. It is a time for families and friends to gather and celebrate the lights of Hanukkah together. For many, it is also a time for reflection and contemplation on the possibility of miracles occurring in our own lives.
Hanukkah is a special time of remembrance that honors ancient and modern heroes alike. Its symbol of light, courage and hope is a beacon of justice and the promise of perseverance in the face of religious intolerance. By giving thanks for the miracle of Hanukkah, we can continue to draw strength and inspiration from its message of courage and faith.
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Last update 2023-11-23. Price and product availability may change.