The spiritual side of Hanukkah customs
Quick rules for a better connection to the awesome light of Hanukkah.
Best time to light the Hanukkah menorah is immediately after sundown but anytime later is okay.
Best to position it by the main door, inside the home. The flames of the Hanukkah should be about 80 cm or 32 inches high from floor. It’s about the standard heights of a table. DO NOT risk having accidental fire, especially when you have small kids at home. Safety first!
It’s important to light with other people (to show and share the story of the miracles), not alone. Gather around the entire household. You may invite neighbor(s). If you have no people to invite, then light the candles by the window where people pass and could see the candles.
Oil candles are better than others, oil and wick should make a nice and clear flame. Olive oil usually has nicer flame but any type of oil is okay.
After oil, all kind of candles is okay.
Electrical or gas flames are okay for decoration and be used without blessings. They do not connect you to the light of the Hanukkah.
One candle a day is sufficient to fulfil 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 ‘Sahamash’
It’s good to stay half an hour or more by the candle watching them and meditate on 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 and a way to express our desire for the light.
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 is 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 (split your Tzedakah/Tithe to several) and use your own words to express your wish.
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.
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.
Links to studies about Hanukkah.
You may post questions in the comments section below.