A short guide for better connection to the awesome light of Hanukkah.
Best time to light the Hanukkah menorah is immediately after sundown but if not possible then anytime later is okay. We stand to light the candles, except for a disabled or ill person.
Best placement for the Hanukkah is by the main door, inside the home. The flames of the Hanukkah should be not higher than 80 cm or 32 inches from floor (It’s about the standard heights of a table). DO NOT risk having accidental fire, especially when you have small kids or pets at home. Safety first!
It’s important to light with other people (to show and share the story of the Hanukkah miracles), preferably not alone. Gather around the entire household before lighting the candles but do not delay the lighting if one comes home later in the evening. You may invite neighbor(s). Some have custom to light the candles by a window where people pass by and could see the candles but it’s better to do by the door as described above. If no man at home then a woman should light the candles with blessings by herself.
Oil candles are better than others types of candles. Olive oil is preferred because that was the oil type used in the Holy Temple. Any type of oil is okay. With oil, the wick should make a nice and clear flame. Use wicks without wax because even though the vessel is full of oil, with wax wicks the initial light and blessing would be on the wax and not the oil.
After oil, all kind of candles with wick are acceptable. They must be lit by fire to activate the blessing. Electrical menorah is good for decoration but not for blessings or spiritual light. They do not connect you to the light of the Hanukkah.
One candle a day is sufficient to fulfill the precept but in order to make a better connection to the Light, we want to increase the number of candles and add a candle every day.
Set the candles in the Hanukkah menorah from right to left. Light the leftmost candle (for current day) first then the candle of the previous day and so on.
It’s important to stay half an hour or more by the candles watching them and meditate on the miracles that God make for us everyday, then make personal wish. It’s a holiday of light and it’s good to keep many lights on at home for the aspect of light attracts Light. It’s a way to express our desires for greater light in our lives.
We are at the last week of the month of Kislev that is the aspect of Yessod, righteous, Tzedakah.
Give Tzedakah to open the channels of Yessod and reveal greater light in your life. It will manifest in all aspects especially in easing up the Tikkun process and open channels of sustenance.
Erev Rosh Chodesh is the night of the sixth candle. Light a 24 hours candle for all the Tzadikim before you light the menorah, and give tzedakah for a higher connection and support of your prayers.
The nights of the seventh and eighth candles are Rosh Chodesh Tevet (Capricorn). It makes it a powerful Rosh Chodesh. The Light of Hanukkah gives this month (Capricorn) strength, ambition, determination, achievement and power to manifest. You can have great support for that with proper connections.
When you don’t know how to pray, give tzedakah to your favorite channels of spiritual support (you may split/divide your Tzedakah/Tithe to several) ‘attach’ your non-selfish prayers to the giving.
The Greeks forbid the Jews to have Torah studies and gatherings for study. To disguise their studies, kids used to come together and play the dreidel while learning Torah.
Later in Europe, Jews made the dreidel in a cube shape and added the letters נ ג ה ש . These letters are the Hebrew initials for “A great miracle happened there (in the holy land)”. The numerical value is 358 that is equal to the word Mashiach, expressing their desire to see Mashaich and the end the exile.
Sufganiyot, Donuts, Latkes
These foods are fried in oil as symbols to the miracle with the oil of the Menorah in the Holy Temple. A meal is not part of Hanukkah connection like in other holidays. It’s not a spiritual tool like meal in the Sukkah in Sukkot or eating Matzah in Passover. But when we say the final blessing after ‘Mezonot’ of the donuts we mention the Altar in Jerusalem and that connects us to Hanukkah.
Gifts, Money, Hanukkah Gelt
The custom of giving gifts is a ‘borrowed’ custom from another holiday that is celebrate around the world during this time of the year. It is not common in Israel. It’s okay to give symbolic gifts with the consciousness of sharing.
The custom of giving money became giving gifts because the receiver expresses his desire to receive for the self and the aspect of Tzedakah was forgotten by most people. The chocolate coins is a corruption of the original custom and the a true connection to the Light of Hanukkah. Teaching the kids from young age to give Tzedakah would help them establish greater channels of success in their lives.
It is good to give them few small coins to put in a Tzedakah box every Friday before lighting the Shabbat candles.
See special study on How to draw light of protection from the candles of Hanukkah.