So we’ve discussed why we light the menorah, but how about the who, where and when? And let’s not forget the how! Here’s a break down of the last bits that you need to know to celebrate the holiday. For more, you can always go to to Chabad.org by clicking here. They have everything you could have possibly wanted to know, and more!
Men and women alike are obligated to participate in the menorah lighting. In some families, the head of the household lights the family menorah while everyone else listens to the blessings and answers, “Amen.” In many other families, all members of the household, including children, light their own menorahs. Either way, it is important for everyone to be present and involved when the Chanukah miracle is festively commemorated.
Light the menorah in your own home. If you are travelling out of town, set up your menorah wherever you will be staying for the night. If you will be spending the night in a Jewish home, you have the option of giving your host a dollar or so, a symbolic contribution towards the menorah expenses, and then you are covered by his/her menorah lighting – or better yet, light your own menorah too.Students who live in dormitories or their own apartments should kindle menorahs in their own rooms or in a communal dining area. In places where this is prohibited, a rabbi should be consulted as to where to kindle the menorah. In the home, there are two preferred locations for the menorah. You can set up the menorah in a central doorway. Place it on a chair or small table near the doorpost that is opposite the mezuzah. This way, when you pass through the doorway, you are surrounded by two mitzvot – the mezuzah and the menorah. Ideally, the menorah lights should be between 12 and 40 inches off the ground. Alternatively, you can set up your menorah on a windowsill facing the street.
The custom of many communities is to light the menorah shortly after sunset. In other communities, the menorah is kindled after nightfall (approximately thirty minutes after sunset). Either way, the menorah must contain enough fuel to burn for at least thirty minutes after nightfall. Regardless of the custom you follow on other Chanukah nights, on Friday night the menorah is lit before sunset, and on Saturday night it is lit after nightfall.Ideally, you should light the menorah at the earliest possible opportunity. Only delay if you are awaiting the arrival of family members who wish to be present when the menorah is lit. The Chanukah lights may be lit as long as there are people in the streets, or as long as there is another family member awake to participate – but no later than one half hour before dawn. (If no other household member is awake and the streets are already quiet, light the menorah without reciting the blessing.)
How to light the Menorah
- Arrange the lights on the menorah. Ensure that there is enough oil, or that the candles are big enough, for the lights to burn until half an hour after nightfall (or, if lighting after nightfall, for one half hour). On the first night, set one candle to the far right of the menorah. On the following night, add a second light to the left of the first one, and then add one light each night of Chanukah – moving from right to left.
- Gather everyone in the house around the menorah.
- Light the shamash candle. Then hold it in your right hand (unless you are left-handed).
- While standing, recite the appropriate blessings.
- Light the candles. Each night, light the newest (left-most) candle first and continue lighting from left to right. (We add lights to the menorah from right to left, while we light from left to right.)
Before lighting the Chanukah candles, we thank G‑d for giving us this special mitzvah, and for the incredible Chanukah miracles:
Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-z’man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.
On the first night of Chanukah, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 (or the first time on Chanukah you perform this mitzvah), add the following blessing:
Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion
After you finish kindling the menorah lights, place the shamash candle in its designated place on the menorah. At this point it is traditional to sing Chanukah hymns such as Haneirot Halalu and or Maoz Tzur.
For the first half hour after the candles are lit (or until half an hour after nightfall, if the menorah was lit before dark) the menorah should not be transferred from its place. If a flame dies out during this time, it is best to relight it. After this time, the menorah can be moved if necessary, and there’s no need to rekindle extinguished flames.