A Guide on How To the Light the Hanukkah Menorah

What are the customs, rituals and traditions when it comes to lighting a Channukiah or Chanukah Menorah? Some are dictated in scripture, but many have been formed into rituals by the generations before us or have been created by community and family traditions.

How many Menorahs should be lit by one family?

Each Jewish household is required to have at least one Menorah. However, if we go by what the ancient rabbis said, it is not customary to stick to only one as lighting more only adds to the mitzvah. Children can be given their Menorahs or heirlooms that have been passed down through generations.

Which family member lights the Menorah?

Both men and women should take part in the lighting ceremony. In some families, the father or the head of the house lights the Hanukkah Menorah and the other family members gather around, listening to the blessings. In many families today, the mother or the children light it. According to the Talmud, the participation of more family members in the lighting can enhance the mitzvah.

Where in the house should the Menorah be kindled?

You should light a Menorah in your own house. In case you are out of town, light one at your place of stay. If you are staying at a relative’s or Jewish friend’s place, you can take part in their lighting ritual by paying a symbolic dollar to cover the costs. If you wish, you can also light your own. It is customary to place your Menorah at a window facing the street or in a central doorway, ideally opposite the mezuzah. The latter is done to ensure that you are surrounded by two mitzvot when you pass through the doorway.

When to light the Menorah?

The Channukiahs or Chanukah Menorahs are lit every night of the 8-day festival. While some communities prefer to do it right after sunset, some wait for dusk to settle. The lighting should take place as soon as possible, only allowing for delays if any family member is still not home. The candles should stay lit for at least half an hour after nightfall.

What is the Blessing when lighting a Hannukiah?

Light the shamash (the helper candle) first, using it to kindle the rest of the Hanukkah lights.
As you do, say or sing:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to
kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim
hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonderous deeds for our
ancestors in days of old at this season.

For first night only:
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

The main Mitzvah of Hanukkah is lighting the Menorah. The ritual is a way of remembering the Miracle of the Maccabees taking back the holy temple from the enemies. All Jews are required to light an 8-branched Menorah, which is known as a Hanukkiah or Chanukkiah, on all the 8 days of Hanukkah.

Learn more about Hanukkah or as some spell it, Chanukkah, and other Jewish traditions by checking out our blog posts. You can also shop for Hanukkah Menorahs (or Hanukkiah), mezuzahs and other mitzvot at our online store www.beames.com.


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