The Commemoration of the miracle of the Hanukkah Lights
One of the most important parts of celebrating the Jewish Festival of Hanukkah is lighting the Hanukkah Menorah (also known as a Hanukkiyah). This ritual has been observed since the destruction of the Temple in commemoration of the miracle of the Hanukkah lights. One menorah is usually lit for the entire family, though sometimes children like to have their own menorahs to light during the holiday.
The Hanukkah menorah is lit after nightfall when stars appear in the sky. Originally, the menorah was then placed outside a home to the left of the doorpost, thereby positioning it opposite the mezuzah on the right. But today, the lit menorah is more commonly placed in or near a window. Both options are accepted since the most important thing is that passersby can see the lit menorah and be reminded of the Hanukkah miracle.
Many homes in Israel have unique outdoor niches that are used for displaying menorahs during Hanukkah. Some of these homes have outdoor lamps that were included as part of their original construction for the purpose of observing Hanukkah.
During Hanukkah, candles are added to the menorah from right to left. The number of candles lit refers to one of the eight nights of Hanukkah. For instance, four candles lit would signify the fourth night of Hanukkah. An additional “helper” candle called a Shamash is used to light the other candles each night. For detailed instructions on how to light a Hanukkah menorah, see: How to Light the Hanukkah Menorah.
Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessings
Every night during Hanukkah, family members will gather around their menorahs and recite the blessings below as part of the candle lighting ceremony. The first two blessings are recited each night. The third blessing is only recited on Hanukkah's first night when the menorah is kindled for the first time.
English: Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
Sephardic/Modern Israeli: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav, vitzivanu, lehadlik ner shel Hanukkah.
Common Ashkenazi (Western Europe, Belorussia, Baltic Republics): Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom Asher Kiddeshonu Be-mitsvoysov Ve-tsivonu Lehadlik Neyr Shel khanuko.
South Ashkenazi (Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Moldavia): Burikh Atu Adoynoy Eloyhayni Melekh Hu-oylum Asher Kiddeshuni Be-mitsvoysuv Ve-tsivuni Lehadlik Nayr Shel khaniku.
This second blessing, which asks us to remember the miracles performed for our ancestors, is also said before the Megillah reading on Purim.
English:Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
Sephardic/Modern Israeli: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, she-asah nissim la-avotaynu bayamim ha-hem bazman hazeh.
Common Ashkenazi (Western Europe, Belorussia, Baltic Republics): Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-oso Nissim La-avoseynu Ba-yyomim Ho-heym Ba-zzman Ha-zze.
South Ashkenazi (Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Moldavia): Burikh Atu Adoynoy Eloyhayni Melekh Hu-oylum She-usu Nissim La-avosayni Ba-yyumim Hu-haym Ba-zzman Ha-zze.
This blessing is recited only on the first time the Hanukkah menorah is lit. Called the Shehechiyanu, it is an essential blessing that thanks God for sustaining us and reminds us to appreciate the goodness in our lives.
English: Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.
Sepharidc/Modern Israeli: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, she-hekheyanu v-kiyamanu v-higgianu lazman hazeh.
Common Ashkenazi (Western Europe, Belorussia, Baltic Republics): Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-hekheyonu Ve-kiymonu Ve-higgi'onu La-zzman Ha-zze.
South Ashkenazi (Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Moldavia): Burikh Atu Adoynoy Eloyhayni Melekh Hu-oylum She-hekheyuni Ve-kiymuni Ve-higgi'uni La-zzman Ha-zze
What is the purpose of all this you might ask? Why is it so important to keep Biblical traditions?
The reason why we do it is two-fold.
One: We always want to celebrate what our Lord did and what was important to Him!
Two: As we celebrate, it cause’s us to remember! “ Remember what the Lord HAS done so you will believe what He WILL do! “(That’s a direct quote from Rabbi Harlon Picker!)
In John 10:22-23: Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade. TLV Yeshua celebrated Himself as the Light of the World. He acknowledged that He alone is the light, that He alone can shatter the darkness, and that He alone IS the Shamash candle, the center candle who lights them all! He is The Servant Leader who came to conquer sin and death, and Who will later come as the Conquering King! Again Yeshua spoke to them, saying ‘I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12; ESV
This season, let us all show the Light of the World to everyone around us!
Let us mirror the traditions of Hanukkah, Jew and Gentile alike in true unity!
Love in Yeshua,
Joyce & Harlon
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Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved