Lighting Up Right!, Chanukah that is!

    December 1998         
Search the Jewish Magazine Site: Google
The Jewish Magazine -  Your monthly link to your soul

Lighting Up Right, how to light the Chanukah Menorah


Search our Archives:

Opinion & Society
by Ira Dudovitch

Want to light up right?

Well it's easy enough to do. All you have to do is to get your stuff, invite over a few friends - and light up!

What time should we light up?

The time for lighting the Chanuka menorah is right after it gets dark. Candles lit in the day are not noticable. Many families wait until all of the family members have assembled and then light the candles. On Friday, light it before it gets dark.

Where should the candles be lit?

The place for lighting is based on the principle of spreading the light. Meaning that we spread the light of the miracle of Chanuka by putting the menorah in one of three places:
Window Put your menorah in the window so that others in the street may see it. But if you live on the twenty-fifth floor of a high rise building, it is better to place the menorah on the dining room table.
Table Put your menorah on the table so that you and your family may see it.
Door Put your menorah outside by your door opposite the mezzuah so that your guests and neighbors may see it as they walk by..

How are the candles lit?

The first night, the first candle is lit. It is the candle on the extreme right of the menorah. On the second night, the second candle (the new one) is lit first and then the one which was lit the previous night is lit. The same is true for the successive nights, the new candle is given preference over the candles that have been lit, just like you should give preference to a new guest who is visiting you over a guest who has been by you many times before.

First Night
Second Night
Third Night
Fourth Night

What is the Shamash?

The shamash is the candle which is used to light the other candles. It is not one of the Chanuka candles, yet it is not blown out but set in a place elevated above the Chanuka candles. The light of this candle may be used for lighting other candles, whereas the flame of the other candles may not be used for lighting other Chanuka candles. Simliar to the principle of he who serves is elevated.

Who should light the candles?

It was traditional for the head of the house to light the candles. In recent times, many young boys have started to light their own menorahs. (Keep an eye out for FIRE HAZARDS!) Although women and girls generally let the men do the lighting, if no one else will light, they should do the lighting. Women generally light the Shabbat candles, men generally light the Chanuka candles.

What are the Blessings?

Before you light the candles, make the appropriate blessings. If you don't know them click here to get them.

What if the candle goes out?

The Chanuka candle is supposed to burn for at least a half hour. If it went out before the half hour has past, relight it. If the half hour has elapsed, then it's dependent on you if you want to light it or not.

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (