Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated annually in remembrance of the rededication of the Holy Temple. Central to the celebration is the lighting of the menorah, with each night of the eight days of Hanukkah, an additional candle is lit. It is essential to understand which direction the Hanukkah candles should be lit in to fully observe the Festival of Lights in accordance with Jewish tradition.
Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah
When it comes to the specifics of which direction to light the Hanukkah candles, there is a correct procedure. The central spot of the menorah is known as the shamash, or custodian candle. Every night, starting on the first night of Hanukkah, an additional candle is placed to the right of the shamash. The new candle is lit using the shamash, and for each subsequent night of the festival a new candle is lit in the same fashion, from right to left. First comes the candle for the first night, then the second night, and so on until all eight candles are lit.
Why the Right to Left Approach?
The tradition of lighting the Hanukkah menorah from right to left is rooted in the Hebrew language. In Hebrew, the word yad means both “hand” and “right.” Also, the word shin is both “tooth” and “left.” As such, the placement of the Hanukkah candles, lighting from right to left, is an example of how words can be used to commemorate tradition.
Other Details to Consider When Lighting the Menorah
- It is customary to place the menorah in a window or doorway that can be seen from the outside, allowing the light of the menorah to show to the world.
- The menorah should be lit after sundown, so that the burning candles can be seen at night.
- The blessing corresponding with the lighting must be recited in Hebrew.
Observing the tradition of having the Hanukkah menorah lit is a meaningful way of showing appreciation for the freedom of religion. Keeping this important Jewish custom alive means passing it on to the next generations. Carefully following the ritual, from right to left, is essential to honoring the heritage of lighting the Hanukkah candles throughout history.
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Last update 2023-11-20. Price and product availability may change.