Tuesday, September 15, 2009

book of seasons: Lighting Hanukkah candles

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, L-rd our G-d, 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, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors, at this season, in days past.

3.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

Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, 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.

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