Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah is one of the most beloved traditions of the holiday. But why are there 8 candles and not 5 or 6? Let’s explore why 8 candles are part of the tradition for Hanukkah.
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The Story Behind 8 Candles
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of oil that lasted 8 days. According to the Talmud, the Maccabees, defeated the Syrian-Greeks in 164 BCE and wanted to rededicate the temple to God. When the Maccabees went to re-light the menorah, they found only a single cruse of consecrated olive oil to light the Menorah. This cruse of oil only allowed the Menorah to be lit for a single day, but inexplicably, it lasted and kept relighting each night of Hanukkah in a miracle lasting 8 days.
8 Candles For The 8 Miraculous Days
To commemorate the miracle of the 8 day-long oil, Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days. During it, an 8-candle Menorah is lit called a hannukiyah with a special mitzvah of lighting the Menorah every night increasing the number of lit candles. On the first night, one candle is lit, the second night, 2 candles, and on each successive night an additional candle is lit until on the 8th night, all 8 candles are lit. The first candle is traditionally referred to as the shamash or “servant” candle and is used to light the other candles, which are not meant to be used or held.
The Traditional Blessing Over the Candles
Before the lighting of the hannukiyah each night, the traditional blessing is recited. Depending on the family’s tradition, a special prayer is said in Hebrew and/or in the language of the family. Usually the prayer includes a blessing for the family to have more light and less darkness, and gratitude for the holiday of Hanukkah.
The Meaning of the Candles
The 8 candles are also symbols of faith and hope. The shamash candle, which is used to light the other candles, symbolizes the current generation of children who will carry on this special tradition. The bright Menorah serves as a reminder for the miracle and the Maccabees’ successful fight against the Greeks. Every year, Jews all over the world relight the 8 candles of the Menorah to remember the Maccabees’ courage and that of all of those who have stood up for Jewish freedom.
In summary, the 8 candles of the Hanukkah Menorah remind us of the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrians and the miracle of the sacred oil lasting 8 days. Each candle lit on the Hanukkah Menorah remembers the courage, dedication, and strength of the Maccabees and the Jewish people. Celebrating Hanukkah with an 8-day lighting of the Menorah renewed today the Maccabees’ struggle then and fills us with the hope and joy of the holiday.
- Why Do You Light Candles On Hanukkah?
- Why Does Hanukkah Have 9 Candles?
- Why 44 Candles For Hanukkah?
- Why Do They Light Candles On Hanukkah?
- Why Are There 8 Candles For Hanukkah?
- Why Are Candles Lit On Hanukkah?
- Why Do We Light 8 Candles On Hanukkah?
- Why Do You Light Hanukkah Candles From Right To Left?
- Why 9 Candles For Hanukkah?
- Why Light Hanukkah Candles From Left To Right?
- Why Do We Light Hanukkah Candles?
- Why Is Hanukkah 8 Nights?
- Why Is Hanukkah Also Called The Festival Of Lights?
- Why Hanukkah Is Celebrated?
- Why Do People Of The Jewish Faith Celebrate Hanukkah?
Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.