How to Light a Menorah
Chanukah, also spelled Hanukkiah, is a special holiday in the Jewish faith. Included in this annual celebration is the lighting of the menorah. Each night, one candle is lit, adding one more as the eight days continue. Therefore, the first night begins with one lit candle, and the last day, the eighth day, ends with all eight candles lit up.
The Purpose of Lighting a Menorah
In ancient times, around 2100 years ago, the Syrian-Greek emperor known as Antiochus overtook Israel’s rule. He inserted several laws that forced Hellenistic ideas upon the Jewish people who did not believe in such things with his tyrannical behavior. Some of these laws included the prohibition of studying the Torah and the conversion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to a structure housing different Greek idols.
A small number of Jewish rebels banned together and fought against the repressive rule of Antiochus. On the 25th day of Kislev, they reclaimed the Holy Temple. In honor of their victory, they wished to light the menorah found in the Temple but realized the Greeks had ruined all the oil.
Fortunately, the victorious rebels found pure oil that would only be able to last for one night even though it would take eight days to find more oil. Chanukah was established after the oil, which was supposed to last only for one night, lasted for eight days.
For this miraculous story, a menorah with eight candles is always lit to celebrate Chanukah.
The Proper Menorah
To celebrate Chanukah properly with a menorah, the menorah must follow a certain set of standards. For example, a kosher menorah has eight oil or candle holders along with an additional holder for the shamash—the attendant candle.
There are two different types of menorahs: an oil-fueled or a candle flamed. Since oil plays such a big part in the history of the holiday, an oil-fueled menorah is most preferable. Additionally, since beautifying different religious aspects is important, most people recommend purchasing a silver menorah.
Some people opt for an electric menorah. While these are great for aesthetic purposes, they do not do a good job of representing Chanukah’s symbolic meaning. Therefore, a natural menorah is best.
For the right menorah, the eight candles must appear in a straight line. A zig-zag line or differing candle heights are not recommended. The candles must be able to burn for 30 minutes on weeknights and up to 90 minutes on Friday.
The Significance of the Shamash
The shamash is the additional candle mentioned before that sits higher than the rest. It is known as the attendant candle. The shamash never gets extinguished because it serves to relight the other candles if needed. The menorah should never be used as a light source, so the shamash is used if a candle is needed.
Who Lights the Menorah and Where?
Everyone in a household should participate in the menorah lighting. Families have different traditions. For example, some may have the head of the house conduct the lighting, while others have menorahs for each individual to light. No matter how the menorah, or menorahs, get lit, everyone should make an effort to participate.
You should light your menorah in your home. For people who travel, it is customary to light it wherever you are staying for the night. The menorah should be placed in a central doorway within your home, usually between 12 and 40 inches from the ground.
You can also place your menorah on a windowsill that looks out toward the street. However, this can only be done if the window is less than 30 feet above ground level.
As a general reminder, the menorah should be in a secure place away from flammable materials and children who can be harmed with the burning elements.
When to Light the Menorah
It is most appropriate to light the candles on the eight nights of Chanukah. Begin lighting shortly after sunset. However, on Friday night, the menorah should be lit before sunset. On Saturday night, the menorah should be lit at nightfall.
How to Light the Menorah
When placing candles on the menorah, add them from right to left. Each night means another is added. Then, light the candles from left to right.
Once everyone is ready to begin, light the shamash candle and hold it in your hand. Recite the blessings and proceed to light the candles from left to right.
You can buy a kosher menorah on the jewish.shop website