Celebrating Hanukkah is one of the most important of all Jewish rituals and traditions. The lighting of the menorah, or hanukiyyah, and the symbolic telling of the story are both essential parts of the observance. But how many lights are needed for Hanukkah today?
Lighting the Lights
The evening service for Hanukkah is called the hanukkiyah lighting. This is done by an adult in the family or an invited guest. The hanukkiyah is lit from a pre-existent flame, typically a memorial candle, and beginning with the shamash. The shamash is moved from right to left, and then each additional candle is lit. The eighth light is lit on the last night of Hanukkah and all eight lights remain lit.
Adding Blessings to the Lights
In addition to lighting the hanukkiyah, it is customary to add a blessing. Jewish law states that blessings must be made each night, with a minimum of two blessings said out loud after all the lights have been lit. The first blessing is the blessing over the candles, the She-hechiyanu, which thanks God for sustaining life and granting us this chance to serve Him. The second blessing is the Hanerot Hallalu, which praises God for the miracles He performed during the Hanukkah period.
Other Hanukkah Traditions
The lighting of the hanukkiyah is only the beginning when it comes to observing this joyous holiday. Other traditions such as opening gifts, playing dreidel, eating traditional potato or pumpkin latkes, giving charity (tzedakah), exchanging Hanukkah cards and of course enjoying special Hanukkah treats like jelly donuts and chocolate coins, also mark this special celebration.
In conclusion, Hanukkah is an eight-day period of festive joy and celebration, and it begins with the lighting of the hanukkiyah. According to Jewish law, a minimum of seven lights should be lit each night, with one shamash light being lit last and extinguished first. Blessings should also be said out loud each night after the lights are lit, and additional Hanukkah traditions such as receiving gifts, playing dreidel and giving charity (tzedakah) should be observed.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.