Prayer Rituals – What Prayers Should You Recite While Lighting a Menorah?

Holidays & Special Events

By Felicity Long

The lighting of the menorah is a significant tradition during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. When lighting the menorah, there are several prayers that are said to commemorate the miracle of the oil. These prayers are recited in Hebrew and hold deep meaning for those celebrating this joyous holiday.

One of the main prayers said when lighting the menorah is the blessing over the candles, known as the “l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah” in Hebrew. This blessing is said while lighting the first candle, and it expresses gratitude for the commandment to kindle the Hanukkah lights. It is a moment of reflection and appreciation for the miracle that took place many years ago.

Another important prayer that is said during the lighting of the menorah is the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. This blessing is recited on the first night of Hanukkah to commemorate the joyous occasion of lighting the menorah. The “Shehecheyanu” blessing is said to express gratitude for reaching this moment in time and experiencing the celebration of Hanukkah with loved ones.

Additionally, throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah, a series of other prayers and blessings are recited. These include prayers of praise and gratitude for the miracles that occurred during the time of Hanukkah, as well as blessings over the lighting of each candle. These prayers help to create a spiritual and meaningful atmosphere during the lighting of the menorah.

The prayers said when lighting the menorah serve as a reminder of the historical significance of Hanukkah. They also provide an opportunity for those celebrating to express their gratitude, reflect on the miracle of the oil, and connect with their faith and tradition. The lighting of the menorah becomes a sacred moment filled with joy, hope, and the blessings of the holiday season.

Understanding the Meaning and Significance of the Menorah

The menorah is an important symbol in Judaism and holds significant meaning in Jewish culture and tradition. With its roots stretching back to ancient times, the menorah carries a deep and profound symbolism that is cherished by Jews around the world.

Traditionally, the menorah refers to a seven-branched candelabrum made of pure gold. The original menorah was a central fixture in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and it holds a special place in Jewish religious ceremonies and rituals.

The seven branches of the menorah represent different ideas and concepts within Judaism. The central branch, known as the “shamash,” serves as the “helper” candle and is used to light the other branches. It symbolizes the importance of service and spreading light to others.

Lighting the menorah is a central part of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. During this eight-day celebration, one additional branch is lit each night, starting with the shamash. This represents the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days when the Temple was purified.

The menorah’s light is a powerful symbol of spiritual enlightenment and the triumph of light over darkness. It serves as a reminder of the Jewish people’s perseverance and hope in the face of adversity.

Symbolically, the menorah also represents the Divine presence and the connection between God and humanity. The menorah’s light is said to reflect the spiritual light of God shining down on the world.

Today, the menorah is not only used in religious contexts but also holds cultural significance. Many Jewish households have a menorah as a symbol of their faith and heritage. It is often displayed prominently during Hanukkah, serving as a reminder of the holiday’s joyous celebration and the timeless messages it conveys.

In summary, the menorah holds deep meaning and significance in Jewish culture. It symbolizes the value of service, the triumph of light over darkness, and the connection between God and humanity. Lighting the menorah during Hanukkah is a cherished tradition that reminds Jews of their shared history, faith, and hope for the future.

The Blessings Before Lighting the Menorah

Lighting the menorah is a central part of the Hanukkah celebration. Before lighting the menorah, it is customary to say three blessings. These blessings express gratitude for the miracles that occurred during the time of Hanukkah:

  1. Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Hanukkah candles.)
  2. Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu bayamim ha’heim bazman hazeh. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.)
  3. Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, she-hecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this festive occasion.)

Reciting these blessings before lighting the menorah helps to set the spiritual tone for the Hanukkah celebration and reminds us of the miracles and blessings that we are commemorating. By saying these prayers, we express our gratitude and connect with the deeper meaning of the holiday.

Reciting the First Blessing: Praising God for Commandments

When lighting the menorah, the first blessing that is recited is a praise to God for commanding us to light the menorah. This blessing is known as the “Blessing for the commandment of kindling the Hanukkah lights.”

The first blessing goes as follows:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah.

This translates to:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

By reciting this blessing, we acknowledge God’s role in commanding us to perform this mitzvah (commandment) and express gratitude for the opportunity to fulfill it. It serves as a reminder of the significance of lighting the menorah and the importance of upholding the traditions of Hanukkah.

Reciting the Second Blessing: Praising God for Miracle in Hanukkah

Reciting the second blessing while lighting the menorah is an essential part of the Hanukkah celebration. This blessing offers gratitude to God for the miracles that took place during the historical events of Hanukkah.

The second blessing is known as the “She’asah Nissim” or “Blessing for the Miracles.” It acknowledges the wondrous acts performed by God during the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek army and the rededication of the Holy Temple.

Here is the traditional English translation of the second blessing:

English Translation Phonetic Pronunciation
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam
who performed miracles for our ancestors she’asah nissim la’avoteinu
in those days, at this time b’yamim haheim baz’man hazeh

Reciting this blessing not only acknowledges the historical miracles but also expresses gratitude for the ongoing miracles that occur in our lives today.

As you light the Hanukkah candles and recite the second blessing, take a moment to reflect on the significance of the miracle of Hanukkah and the enduring strength of the Jewish people.

Lighting the Menorah and Saying the Blessings

Lighting the menorah is a central part of the Hanukkah celebration. It is customary to light the menorah each night of the holiday, beginning with one candle and gradually increasing to eight. The following blessings are recited when lighting the menorah:

  1. The First Night: On the first night of Hanukkah, the following two blessings are recited:
    • Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Hanukkah candles.)
    • Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiyemanu v’higianu lazman hazeh. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.)
  2. The Second Night and After: On the second night and all nights of Hanukkah following, the following blessing is recited:
    • Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah. (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the Hanukkah candles.)

The candles on the menorah are then lit from left to right, with the newest candle being lit first. The shamash, or helper candle, is used to light the other candles. After lighting the candles, it is customary to place the menorah in a window or other prominent place to publicize the miracle of Hanukkah.

As the candles burn, it is customary to sing Hanukkah songs and to spend time with loved ones, enjoying the warmth of the lights and the joy of the holiday.

Continuing to Say the Prayers Throughout Hanukkah

Lighting the menorah and saying the prayers is a central part of the Hanukkah celebration. This tradition lasts for eight nights, each night adding another candle to the menorah until it is fully lit on the last night. The prayers recited during the lighting of the menorah are the same each night, consisting of three blessings.

The first blessing is the Shehecheyanu, which is recited on the first night only. This blessing thanks God for allowing us to reach this joyous occasion and celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah. The second blessing is the Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah, which thanks God for commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights. The last blessing is the She’asa Nissim, which thanks God for performing miracles for our ancestors and for us.

It is important to continue saying these prayers throughout the entire Hanukkah celebration. Each night, before you light the menorah, gather your family together and recite the blessings. As you say the prayers, reflect on the significance of the miracle of Hanukkah and the importance of spreading its message of light and hope.

To help you keep track of the blessings, you can use a Hanukkah prayer guide or booklet. These resources provide the Hebrew text of the blessings as well as their transliteration and English translation. They can help you and your family learn the prayers and understand their meaning.

By continuing to say the prayers throughout Hanukkah, you are actively participating in the celebration and connecting with the traditions of your ancestors. The prayers serve as a reminder of the miracles that have occurred and the ongoing strength and resilience of the Jewish people. They also serve as a reminder of the importance of faith, hope, and unity.

As you light the menorah and say the prayers each night, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the lights and the warmth they bring. Hanukkah is a time to come together with loved ones, to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, and to remember the miracles that have shaped our history.

Night Prayers
First night Shehecheyanu
Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Second night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Third night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Fourth night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Fifth night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Sixth night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Seventh night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim
Eighth night Lehadlik Ner Shel Hanukkah
She’asa Nissim

Video:

How to Light the Hanukkah Menorah

Photo of author

Felicity Long

Felicity Long, a seasoned travel journalist with 15+ years of experience, specializes in exploring Europe, family travel, and skiing, as evident in her book "Great Escapes: New England" (The Countryman Press). She edits the Europe eNewsletter and contributes significantly to TravelAsker's destinations sections. Felicity has received esteemed awards, including the Cacique and Yo Leonardo Awards, in recognition of her outstanding international travel writing accomplishments.

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