After one light has been lit, say Haneirot Hallalu while continuing to light the others. The Chabad custom is to recite Haneirot Hallalu after all the candles are lit.

"הנרות הללו"
“These lights.”

QUESTION: The words “Haneirot Halallu” — “these lights” — are plural. On the first night when we only kindle one light, shouldn’t we say “haneir hazeh” — “this light?”

ANSWER: When a Jew performs a mitzvah on earth he evokes a spiritual awakening in heaven, and Hashem, so to speak, also performs the mitzvah. This is the concept of “itaruta deletata itaruta deli’eilah” — “the awakening below causes an awakening above.” Thus, when we kindle Chanukah lights, Hashem also does so in heaven (see p. 72). Hence, already on the first night two lights are really being lit and the expression Haneirot Halalluthese lights — in plural is in proper order.

"הנרות הללו אנו מדליקין על התשועות ועל הנסים ועל הנפלאות שעשית לאבותינו בימים ההם... להודות ולהלל לשמך הגדול על נסיך ועל נפלאותיך ועל ישעותיך."
“These lights we kindle upon the salvations, miracles and wonders which You performed for our forefathers... to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for the miracles, wonders and salvations.”

QUESTION: Why in the beginning is the order “salvations, miracles and wonders” while in the conclusion of the prayer the order is “miracles, wonders and salvations”?

ANSWER: These three terms are not merely descriptive terms relating to a given event; rather each is a distinct way to accurately categorize the uniqueness of what happened.

“Salvation” (תשועות) means, for example, that when a group is at war against another group, and it appears that one side was victorious because of their superior strategy or tactics, in reality it is Hashem that brought about their salvation, and without His assistance and salvation no one can ever succeed.

“Miracles” (נסים) are occurrences that are above and beyond the worldly laws of nature, such as a victory of the weak over the strong or the few over the many.

“Wonders” (נפלאות) are happenings that arouse people’s amazement and bring about a state of wonderment. Though a wonder can be explained by some as not being an actual miracle, nevertheless, it is not something that one would normally anticipate and people view it with awe and astonishment.

In the beginning of Haneirot Hallalu we speak of what Hashem did for our forefathers in those days. A careful analysis of the history as recorded by Yossifus — Josephus — will show that in the beginning the victories the Jews experienced were not miracles but merely acts attributed to Hashem’s salvation. Afterwards, they literally saw not just His salvation but nissim — miracles — miraculous success, followed by nifla’ot — acts of wonder.

Matityahu and his sons fought the Syrian-Greeks and the Hellenite Jews for three years. They started their battles while they lived in Modi’in — a Judean village located approximately 10 miles from Jerusalem.

One day the king’s forces appeared and demanded that the townspeople offer a sacrifice in the pagan fashion. They attempted to convince the aged and venerable Matityahu that it would be to his material and social advantage if he would set an example for the people. Were he to comply, he and his sons would be considered the king’s “friends,” an official title carrying with it many privileges, and they would receive a handsome monetary reward. Matityahu proudly and publicly declared his determination to remain faithful to the religion of his forefathers. As he was declaiming his defiance, a renegade Jew approached the altar to offer a pig as a sacrifice. When Matityahu saw this, he grabbed a sword and killed not only the Jewish renegade, but the Syrian emissaries of the king.

Thereupon, he and his sons left all their worldly possessions in Modi’in and fled to the mountains in the Judean desert. Many other loyal Jews followed his example and joined him to live in the mountain caves, where they would be able to practice the Torah’s precepts. The king’s forces could not disregard this challenge to their authority and began to seek out these bands of loyal Jews in the mountains. The Jews were exhorted by Matityahu to resist the Greeks with force, and six thousand combat-worthy, loyal Jews gathered under his banner. They began to strike back at the Greeks and demolish the idolatrous altars put up by the pagans.

In these early stages of confrontation, the victories the Jews experienced were not miracles. The victory of a group of Jews fighting a band of Hellenists is not anything unusual, but it was indeed thanks to Hashem’s Teshu’a — salvation.

As time progressed and Antiochus learned about the defeats his troops were encountering, he became enraged and resolved to crush the Hasmoneans.

He opened his treasures and paid his soldiers a full year’s wages in advance and ordered them to prepare for combat. Antiochus organized an army consisting of tens of thousands of footsoldiers and cavalry, equipped them with war elephants, and commanded them to march into Judea and annihilate Yehudah the Maccabbe and his small army of followers.

What followed afterwards was a great neis — miracle. The huge armies of the enemies were conquered by the small Jewish army divided into four segments. The weak soldiers of Judah defeated the mighty army of Antiochus.

Once this was accomplished, the Jews reclaimed the Beit Hamikdash and behold, they witnessed nifla’ot — wonders. They found a single flask of oil which the Syrian-Greeks overlooked and with it they were able to kindle the Menorah. The finding of the oil was not a miracle since it is not against the law of nature that a single flask which was hidden should go unnoticed, but it is indeed a wonder and people viewed it with amazement and awe. (Afterwards they witnessed another miracle, namely, that the single flask of oil lasted them miraculously for eight days — this however, is included in the plural of “nisecha” — “Your miracles”.)

Hence, when talking about what our forefathers witnessed in those days the chronological order was “teshu’ot — “salvations”, “nissim” — “miracles”, and “nifla’ot — “wonders.”

However, when we have to offer praise and thanks today, our initial reaction is to thank Him for the unbelievable “nissim — miracles — in which Hashem definitely changed the order of nature for our benefit. Then, after further contemplation one thanks Him for the “nifla’ot” — wonders — which are indeed awesome. Though some may argue that it was not so special and the oversight of the flask could have just been a haphazard occurrence, nevertheless, after careful consideration, one concludes that this is G‑d’s predestined wonder and we owe Him thanks for it. Ultimately, one comes to the recognition that nature too is controlled by Hashem and since “la’Hashem hayeshuah” — “salvation is Hashem’s” (Psalms 3:9) — He must be thanked and praised when one experiences His salvation.

(לקוטי שיחות חט"ו ע' 366)

"הנרות הללו קדש הם"
“These lights are holy.”

QUESTION: What lesson can we learn from the Chanukah candles?

ANSWER: 1) Candles represent Torah and mitzvot, as King Shlomo said, Neir mitzvah veTorah ohr — “A mitzvah is a candle and Torah is light (Proverbs 6:23). The additions of a candle to the Chanukah Menorah each day teaches that in Torah and mitzvot, one should never be content with what was done yesterday. Each day one must strive to do more and improve in the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot.

2) The Chanukah lights commemorate the Menorah of the Beit Hamikdash. Yet there are major differences between them. In the Beit Hamikdash the Menorah was lit in the afternoon and on the inside, whereas the Chanukah candles are lit by the entrance facing the street and after dark.

This teaches that a Jew must not only light up his house, as with the Shabbat candles, but he has the additional responsibility to illuminate the “outside” — his social and business environment.

When times are “hard” spiritually, when it is “dark” outside and the Jews are in exile, it is not sufficient to light a candle alone and maintain it; it is necessary to increase the lights steadily. Constant growing efforts to spread the light of Torah and mitzvot will dispel the darkness of exile and illuminate the world.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"א)

"הנרות הללו קדש הם ואין לנו רשות להשתמש בהן אלא לראותן בלבד כדי להודות ולהלל"
“These lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make use of them, but only to look at them in order to offer thanks and praise.”

QUESTION: How does ones not being permitted to use them help us to praise Hashem?

ANSWER: If one would be permitted to use the candles for his personal benefit, he might become involved in his activities and be oblivious to the significance of the Chanukah candles. However, when a person must refrain from using them, and at the same time he must sit near them and look at them (Sefer Haminhagim-Chabad), all he tends to do is contemplate them and think about why they are being lit. Hence, inevitably he will begin to give thanks and praise Hashem’s Holy Name.

(אדרת אליהו – ספרדי)