The traditional prayer for lighting Hanukkah candles is an integral part of the Hanukkah celebration. It is chanted in the synagogue and at home after lighting the candles each night of Hanukkah. The prayer is said in Hebrew and invokes memories of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean Dynasty and the Chanukah miracle of rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
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The Traditional Prayer for Lighting Hanukkah Candles
The prayer is a short one, and in Hebrew it reads:
- בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶך הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְסִיכַת חַנֻּכָּה
- Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’sichat Hanukkah.
- Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the kindling of Chanukah’s lights.
Commandment to Light Hanukkah Candles
The Jewish sages established the ritual of Hanukkah candle-lighting to fulfill the biblical commandment to publicize the miracle (Leviticus 24:2; Numbers 9:2). This commandment is interpreted as meaning to kindle Hanukkah lights every night of the Holiday, and usually this is done with a special menorah (Hanukkiah) with eight lights plus a shamas (also called the shamash). In addition, a special blessing that sanctifies the mitzvah (commandment) of kindling the lights is also recited before lighting.
Where to recite the prayer?
The traditional prayer for lighting Hanukkah lights may be recited either in the synagogue or at home, before inserting a candle in the appropriate place of the Hanukiah.
The Meaning of the words
Each word of the prayer is significant as it emphasizes certain aspects of the miracle of Hanukkah. The word “Baruch” (Blessed) expresses gratitude to God for having performed the miracle involving His sanctified nation. The word “Atah” (You) reminds us that God is with us today, as He was in the past. The words “King of the Universe” remind us of God’s sovereignty, just as it did for the Maccabees fighting against idolatry and against the oppressors.
The phrase “Who has sanctified us with His commandments” reminds us of God’s covenant with us, through which we recognize and accept him as our King. The words “and commanded us concerning the kindling of Chanukah’s lights” expresses willingness to follow God’s laws, including the commandment to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
The traditional prayer for lighting Hanukkah candles is an age-old reminder and re-dedication of the miracle of Hanukkah. Its relatively short length is easily remembered, and it traditionally is used every night of Hanukkah. The prayer includes an acknowledgement of gratitude and faith to God, as well as a will to fulfill God’s laws.
The Hanukkah prayer is a reminder to look upon the Chanukiah and acknowledge the miracle it represents, with faith and a solemn sense of joy. Even today, centuries later, the prayer brings joy, optimism, and hope to those who recite it.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.