Lighting the Menorah

The Traditional Way to Light the Menorah

The first blessing thanks God for the commandment to “kindle the Hanukkah lights.” We therefore recite the blessing before lighting the candles, and then proceed to carry out the commandment.

The second blessing praises God for the miracle the candles publicize, and is therefore said as the candles are being lit.

Hold the lit shamash in your right hand and say:

  1. Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, a-sher kid-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner shel cha-nu-kah.
    Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
  2. Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, she-a-sa ni-sim la- avo-tei-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem ba-zman ha-zeh.
    Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors, at this season, in days past.
  • On the first night of Hanukkah we add the following “shehechiyanu” blessing, signifying that it is the first time that we have lit the Hanukkah lights this season:
    Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, she-he-chi-yanu ve-kiy’manu ve-higi-anu la’zman ha’zeh
    lessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who gave us life and kept us and delivered us to this time.

Lighting the Menorah

On the first night of Hanukkah, a single candle (or oil wick) is lit, on the far right side of the menorah. On each successive night an additional candle is added, from right to left (two candles lit on the second night, three on the third…) until finally, on the eighth night, all eight candles are lit. It is customary to light from left to right, with the newest candle lit first. Kindly allow the candles to burn themselves out.

The candles are lit by a “shamash” or service candle, which after being used to light the other candles, takes its own special place on the menorah – usually in a place slightly set apart from the rest.

When To Light

The candles are lit starting at nightfall, and should burn for at least half an hour. On Friday afternoon, the candles are traditionally lit before sunset, to avoid lighting on the Sabbath. By putting longer candles in the menorah (or thick Shabbat candles on tin foil), the lights will still be burning after it grows dark.

Where To Light

The glowing Hanukkah candles are meant to advertise the holiday’s miracles. That’s why some people erect towering menorahs in shopping centers, hotels and town squares.

At home, some families put the lit menorah in the window where passers-by can see their light, while others place the menorah where family members can best enjoy it.

And afterwards…

Got all that? Don’t worry, there are eight nights to get it right!

After lighting all the candles of the day, it’s traditional to sing upbeat Hanukkah hymns like “Ha’Nerot Ha’Lalu (Those Candles) or Maoz Tzur (Rock of Strength).

Then enjoy homemade latkes with sour cream and apple sauce (we’ll save the miracle of cholesterol for next week).

The above is from the Jewish Communication Network

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