Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that celebrates the rededication of the temple and the miracle of oil that lasted for eight days. Lighting the candles on the menorah is the most important ritual of Hanukkah. Every night of Hanukkah, one more candle is lit until all eight candles are burning. But when is the correct time to light the Hanukkah candles?
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Why is 18 Minutes Before Sundown the Appropriate Time to Light Hanukkah Candles?
Jewish law mandates that candles can’t be lit until after sundown and at least a few minutes before it is dark. The duration of the 18 minute grace period is to ensure that the lighting of the Hanukkah candles isn’t confused with the Shabbat lights. By the time the Hanukkah candles are lit, Shabbat has generally begun, providing further assurance against confusion.
Female Candles First
It is customary to light the three female candles closest to the menorah first, as a sign of respect and honor to the women of the household. Furthermore, the addition of a candle should be done from right to left, in accordance with Hebrew reading, using the Menorah seen by Moses on Mount Sinai.
Before lighting the candles, the blessings are recited in two sets. The first is known as the “hammer” (in Hebrew: Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitsvotav, v’tssivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanuka) and the second is a thanksgiving prayer.
It is important to remember that the exact time of the candle lighting varies from place to place and according to the type of calendar used, and so it is important to check with a Jewish calendar. Nevertheless, the general rule is to light Hanukkah candles approximately 18 minutes before sundown, and to do so in the correct manner, with respect and honor.
Hanukkah is a time of joy and celebration, and lighting the menorah with its eight candles is an integral part of this special holiday. By following the customs laid out by Jewish law, it ensures that the festival and the miracle of the oil are remembered each year.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.