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How do I light the Menorah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » The Laws | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to lighting the Menorah:

1. At the appropriate time gather together your family and anyone else who happens to be home.

2. Light the Shamash candle and hold it in your right hand (left hand for left-handed people).

3. While standing, recite the two blessings found in your Siddur. [Click here to read "What are the blessings for lighting the Chanukah menorah?"] On the first night of Chanukah (or if for some reason you didn’t light the Menorah on the first night, then the first time you light the Menorah), you should add the Shehecheyanu blessing.

4. Kindle the candles. On the first night we light the candle on the far right side of the Menorah, and every night thereafter we add a candle to the left of that. When we light on the second night, and all the subsequent nights, we start by lighting the (new) left candle and then we move left to right, lighting the others candles. In other words, the candles are positioned on the right side of the menorah but we light from left to right.

Following the menorah lighting is the perfect time to share some Chanukah stories with your family, enjoy a draidel game and indulge in some hot latkes!
5. Place the Shamash candle back in its place and say (or sing) the Haneirot Halalu and/or Maoz Tzur.

6. It is customary to linger around the candles for a half hour (aside for Friday afternoon when everyone runs to the Synagogue for the Shabbat services). This is the perfect time to share some Chanukah stories with your family, enjoy a dreidel game and indulge in some hot latkes!

7. Traditionally, women refrain from doing any household chores for the first 30 minutes after the Menorah is kindled. This slight respite is a tribute to the vital role played by a woman in the Chanukah victory (see Is a woman obligated to light the Menorah?)

[Ed. note: Also read "What do we light first? Chanukah candles or Shabbat candles?"]



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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
A blessing recited on joyous occasions. The blessing thanks G-d for "sustaining us and enabling us to reach this occasion."
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
Prayer book.