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How to Light

How to Light


On the first night, one light is lit and on every successive night, an additional light is added so that on the eighth night, eight lights are lit.

If one uses a menorah which has holders for eight lights: On the first night one kindles the light on the extreme right. On the following night, another light is added to the left of that and is lit first, followed by the light in the holder which he had lit on the previous night. On each night, an additional light is added to the left of the light which had been lit on the previous night. This new light is kindled first, followed by the light which had been lit previously. Thus one is always adding from right to left, but lighting from left to right.

The reason why we first kindle the light which had been added that evening is to show that the greatness of the miracle increased on each successive night.

The lights should be lit so that they are in an even line. The holders should be the same height so that one light is not higher than the others. The holders should also be placed in a straight line so that some lights do not protrude, and they should not be in a circle. There should be sufficient space between the holders so that the flame of one light does not join that of another and so that the heat from one flame does not melt the wax of another.

On the first night of Chanukah, three blessings are recited before lighting:

1. Blessed are You... Who has commanded us to kindle the Chanukah lights... 2. Who has performed miracles for our fathers...
3.  She-hecheyanu [Who has given us life...].

On the subsequent nights of Chanukah, only the first two blessings are made. If one was inadvertently unable to light on the first night of Chanukah, then She-hecheyanu is recited the first time that one lights.

It is customary to light an additional light aside from the Chanukah lights. This extra light, referred to as the shamash, may be used to light the Chanukah lights and one may derive benefit from its light. The Chanukah lights themselves may not be used for any other purpose as long as they are burning in fulfillment of the mitzvah. Therefore, the shamash is lit so that any benefit derived is considered to be from the light of the shamash rather than from the Chanukah lights. To make it obvious that the shamash is not one of the Chanukah lights, the shamash should not be placed on the same level as the Chanukah lights. It is proper that there be another source of light in the home besides that of the shamash.

It is customary to refrain from using the Chanukah lights even to light each other. Rather, the Chanukah lights should be lit using the shamash or another candle.

When lighting the Chanukah lights, the entire household should gather so that the miracle which is being commemorated will be publicized. [Pirsum hanes, "publicizing the miracle," is an essential component of Chanukah.]

After lighting the first candle, and while lighting the others, one recites or sings HaNerot Halalu. When the lighting is concluded, Chanukah hymns are sung in accordance with local custom.

Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, OBM, was one of Israel's most acclaimed religious authors, whose books on the Jewish way of life and the Chassidic movement have become renowned. Text translated from the Hebrew by Nachman Bulman and Dovid Landseman.
Excerpted from: The Book of Our Heritage. Published and copyright by Feldheim Publications.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
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Lovella North Dakota December 26, 2016

I have a electric Menorah, you plug it in . It's white with blue bulbs. Does the Shamash bulb always stay lit ? Reply

Norman Manhattan December 25, 2016

The candles burn completely each night. Therefore, they all start the same height again each subsequent night. Also, in the original historical occurrence that the holiday celebrates, it was a reservoir of oil in a lamp that burned, so although one could possibly see the amount of oil lowering as it burned, if it was an enclosed reservoir, one could not. I do not know the design of the lamps of antiquity that were in the Temple. Reply

Anonymous Salem December 23, 2016

Shame on me for getting to this age and not knowing the beautiful and meaningful reasons the candles in the menorah are lit as they are. Reply

Gregory Minnesota December 9, 2016

@ Karen: Perhaps Siri is a Harvard Jew. Reply

Lily December 9, 2016

To norman, you should'nt say that this website is completely wrong. Maybe you just celebrate Hanukkah differently. Reply

Gary Devouges Canada August 27, 2016

I am just reading about the menorah by curiosity. Usually the pictures always show the candles having the same height. Since each one burns one day more than the next one, should they not each be shorter then the next one ?

Thank You Reply

Norman London December 20, 2015

You are completely wrong and don't appreciate the whole point of Chanukah. The Shamash is the whole symbol of the miracle and in our family for over 100 years we use it to light the other lights,we only ever use candles, and after the main prayers we extinguish it and use it in the same way for the rest of the festival - 8 days in all. This is understood by all,young and old. Reply

Anonymous florida December 7, 2015

Real candles burn out quickly. How long should we leave electric "candles" on ? Reply

Greg December 4, 2015

When I place my menorah in the window my candles will always start from the righthand side as viewed from inside the house? And thus would appear as starting on the left as viewed from outside? Or do I need to display it to the outside the other way around? Reply

Karen St. Louis December 21, 2014

I asked Siri my question, and her response was "I have no opinion" I googled my question and got this site and my question was answered perfectly. Thank you Reply

Barbara Las Vegas, NV December 8, 2010

How long is the Menorah on display after Hanukah? Reply

Alice Miami, Fl November 29, 2007

Thank you out of 5 or 6 sites I visited you where the only one who addressed my question Reply

Ron Mullen Cheyenne, WY/USA December 16, 2006

Exceptional, extremely informative. Reply

Roo December 14, 2006

You'll replace all the candles every night because you let them burn all the way down. Do not blow them out and save them like birthday candles. That's why the boxes come with all the candles needed for 8 nights. Reply

Dovid Zaklikowski December 13, 2006

One lights from left to right as the Menorah is facing him. The candles are placed from right to left as the Menorah facing him.

Make sure that the window you are placing it from is not more than 30 feet off the ground. If it is, one should not place the Menorah in the window, rather at the doorway on the opposite side of the Mezuzah. Reply

Lionel Norman, OK December 12, 2006

Looking from the sidewalk, which light should be first? Thanks! Reply

Juanita williamsburg, va December 6, 2006

When lighting the candles each night do I need to replace them on every new night so that they will remain the same height? Reply

Anonymous December 25, 2005

Thanks; Great site, easy to follow and to the point.
I really appreciate whoever took the time to write and design it.
Happy holidays
-a Reply

Jennifer Schwartz Ames, IA December 23, 2005

My family absolutely loved looking at the photos of menorahs from around the world! It was especially interesting to see the one from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where a friend of mine lives. Neither of us realized any Jews lived there. Seeing the photos helped my family realize that there really are Jews all over the world. Especially for those of us who live in areas not very populated with other Jews, it was so wonderful to see the various countries and cities with their beautiful menorahs.

Also, your "Chanukah How-To" articles are wonderfully informative and very complete. Thank you so much for providing them.

I'm writing this on on a Friday morning, so if you happen to read it today, Shabbat Shalom. Reply

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