For the past two days, we've shared How to Celebrate Hanukkah. We've explained what Hanukkah is and the importance of the Menorah. Today we take a look at how to light the Menorah and the blessings that go along with the lighting.
On the first night, place the shammash in position and one candle at the far right, as you face the hanukkiah. Light the shammash, recite the first two blessings, and use the shammash to light the first candle. Then say the third blessing and prayer, followed by a song – Ma’oz Tzur, or one of your choice.
As the Hanukkah candles should be left to burn down each night, you will need a total of 44 candles. The first two blessings are said after lighting the shammash and immediately prior to lighting the other candles:
Blessing 1Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, Asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav, Ve-tzi-vanu l’ hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.
Blessing 2Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, Sheh’assa nissim la-avo-teinu, Ba’yamim ha-hem ba’zman ha-zeh. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
Blessing 3- This blessing is said on the first night only.Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, Sheh-heh-chi’yanu ve-ki’yimanu Ve-higi’yanu la’zman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
Hanukkah Prayer - Al Hanissim
For all the miracles and for Your great salvation, and for the victories and for the battles that You performed for our fathers years ago at this time, we thank You God, our Father. In the time of the Maccabees, when the evil Seleucid kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget the teachings of Your Torah and to lead them away from Your will, You in Your abundant mercy stood up for them in their time of need. You delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the wicked into the hands of the righteous. And for Your people Israel You caused great victory and salvation on this day. Then they turned to Your Sanctuary and cleansed Your Temple and relit the lights in Your Holy Place. You kept the lights burning for eight days, and they established these eight days of Hanukkah in order to thank You and to praise Your great Name. Amen
After lighting the candles, it is a stirring and heartwarming experience to sing together in praise of our God and Lord. Ma’oz Tzur (Rock of Ages) is the traditional song that is sung.
2nd Night -
On the second-night place candles in the two far-right positions. Recite the first two Blessings after lighting the shammash and use the shammash to light the candles, lighting the left one first. Always light the newest candle first.
3rd Night -
On the third night place three candles in the three right-hand positions. Recite the first two Blessings after lighting the shammash and use the shammash to light them in order, from left to right.
Follow this same procedure each night of Hanukkah, until all the lights are kindled and glowing brightly on the eighth night.
The Al Ha’nissim prayer can be recited and Ma’oz Tzur sung each night after lighting. A good tradition is to make time to read a special, inspirational Hanukkah story aloud each night. A selection of Hanukkah stories for children, which can also be enjoyed by the not-so-young, can be found at Chabad.org.
Disciples of Yeshua (Jesus)
As disciples of Yeshua, it is important for us to remember three things:
- Yeshua celebrated Chanukah (John 10). By doing so, he affirmed the importance of this history, not only for the people of Israel in the First-century but for us – because, in Him, we are connected to it as well.
- As a result of the miracle that God accomplished at Chanukah, the Jewish were preserved. That act of mercy made it possible for the true “Light” to be manifest in a body of flesh and blood.
- Yeshua, the Light of the World, has called us to be lights as well.