During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in menorah (candelabra) called a ‘hanukkiyah’. There is a special ninth candle called the ‘shammash’ or servant candle which is used to light the other candles. The shammash is often in the center of the other candles and has a higher position.
There is a renowned Jewish saying by Rabbi Irving Greenberg: “The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle”. This is the significance of Hanukkah Candles. Hanukkah Candles are very important part of the Hanukkah celebration.
- The historic implication of Hanukkah Candles is to commemorate the miracle of the Maccabees’ victory and the miracle of the oil that burnt for eight days in the Temple.
- Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, all members of the family gathers around the Hanukkah Menorah and light all the candles with ‘shamas’.
- There is a more deeper connotation of Hanukkah Candles. The human relation is formalized on Hanukkah in the form of lighting of separate wicks or candles that are build daily towards a harmony and unity of illumination.
- Hanukkah Candles signifies the capacity to sustain intimate relations with another without totally ceding your own sense of self, the ability to love without permanently merging, to be enchanted by the exquisite beauty of another without losing sight of your own charms.
- After the shamas is lit, two blessings are recited and then the remaining candles are it.
- On the first night, a third blessing is added, which is recited at least once on all Jewish festivals. And two songs are traditionally sung after the hanukkiyah or menorah is lighted in almost all the Jewish household.
Hanukkah Candles are lit at night right after sundown. The lighting of the candle is begun from the right side as you face it. However, some people do it from the opposite so that people looking at it from the other side will see the candle being at their right. Each night, a candle is added to the previous one until all the eight are lighted with the ‘shamas’. However, every night the new added candle is lit first. The lighted ‘shamas’ is used to light all the Hanukkah Candles. The ‘shamas’ is the only one of the menorah candles that is used to kindle the other candles and has a proper function.
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