The lighting of the Hanukkah menorah is one of the most beloved rituals of the holiday. Lighting all the candles in the proper order is not only symbolic but also provides an opportunity for families to spend time together. So, the key to proper lighting of the menorah is understanding which way to light the Hanukkah candles.
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Traditionally Lighting the Hanukkah Candles
The proper way to light the Hanukkah candles is starting from right to left. The shamash (the middle, helper candle) should be lit first and then used to light the other candles starting from the right. Each night, one additional candle is lit from left to right until all eight are lit on the final day of Hanukkah.
While lighting from right to left is the traditional approach, some people prefer to light from left to right. This was once commonly done, but less so in recent years. Reverse lighting is not a ‘wrong’ way to celebrate, and those who practice it should not be judgmental of those who practice the traditional route.
The Significance Behind the Lighting
In the time of the Maccabees, the Jewish people kept the Hanukkah menorah lit for eight nights to recognize the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. It is customary to use the shamash (helper candle) to light the other candles, representing that the Jewish people are welcoming a new and special light into their lives each night. No matter which direction you decide to light the candles, each night marks the passing of a special miracle in Jewish tradition.
Which way to light the Hanukkah candles is a matter of personal interpretation and preference. Whether you are part of a traditional family or choose to light each night from left to right, the important part of the Hanukkah tradition is honoring the light and spirit that it brings into each family.
No matter which approach to lighting is used, it should always be done with a spirit of joy and love to represent the beauty of the Hanukkah tradition. It is also very meaningful to include a few words of thanks before lighting each night and say the blessings with friends and family. By making a tradition out of lighting the Hanukkah candles each year, families are reminded to honor the light in their lives.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.