The Real Story of Chanukah

Told by Rabbi Menachem Wolf

The fluffy version of the story you’ve grown up with is not the accurate Chanukah version!

Light up when?

Right after nightfall, once it’s dark outside (aside from Friday afternoon, when the candles are lit shortly before sunset)

Light up what?

The Menorah or holder used for lighting the lights should be attractive and clean. All 8 Chanukah lights need to be lined up on the same level, but the Shamesh candle must be separate!

The preferred way to fulfill the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah Menorah is to use pure ilive oil and wicks of cotton, just like the Menorah in the Holy Temple. Nevertheless, other types of oils, wicks and candles may be used, as long as they five a steady light.

Light up where?

Some people put their Menorah in the doorway opposite the Mezuzah, while others place it near the window. We do this to spread the Chanukah light! In these places, people are sure to see your Menorah, and remember the great miracles that G-d performed.

Light up how?

We place candles in the Menorah from right to left, but we light the candles from the left to right. On the first night we light one candle on the right side. On the second night we light the new candle first, starting from the left and moving to the right. We continue this way every night of Chanukah, adding a candle each night.

Follow the Leader!

The Chanukah candles cannot be used to light each other, which is why we use the Shamesh Candle to light the Menorah. It’s not one of the 8 Chanukah candles, so we set it in a place above the rest. The Shamesh can be made out of sweet-smelling beeswax. The lights of the Chanukah candles are special – only for looking at, not for using. It is food for the eyes – and the soul!

Light up how long?

The Chanukah candles are supposed to burn for at least half an hour. On Friday though, we have to light them before it gets dark and Shabbat comes in. We generally use more oil or bigger candles on Friday so that the candles will stay burning well into Shabbat.