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Chanukah Blessings
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Chanukah Blessings


Chanukah begins on the 25th of Kislev at sundown (on Saturday night, we wait until after dark when the stars are out to light the candles). We place wax candles or oil (preferably olive oil) in the Chanukiyah on the far right side as you face it. Each new candle is added to the left. An additional candle, the shamash, is placed in its own holder as a reminder not to use the Chanukah lights for any other purpose. Though we may light the candles at sundown, many people wait until the whole family can gather and light together. One may light a single Chanukiyah for the whole family or each family member may have his or her own to light to increase the joy of the holiday. 


Originally, the Chanukiyah was placed in the doorway opposite the mezuzah (i.e. on the left side facing the door as you enter). It was supposed to burn until the last person left the market place on the way home. Later, due to weather conditions, the Chanukiyah was moved indoors to a window facing the street. In times of danger in our history, it was lit furtively on the dining room table with the drapes drawn. I’ve been in a Chasidic home where the menorah was lit in the doorway to the dining room to fulfill both possibilities.


We light the shamash and recite the blessings, all three the first night, and subsequent nights just the first two. After completing the blessings we light the candles from left to right, thus imitating the movements of the high priest who always turned to the right, the side of mercy, as he performed his duties. The Chanukiyah should be put in its proper place prior to lighting and not moved until the candles go out. There should be enough oil or long enough candles so that they will burn at least for a half hour past sundown. On Friday night, we light the Chanukah candles before the Shabbat candles so at least the new candle (preferably all candles) should be long enough to burn for the 18 minutes before sundown plus the 30 minutes afterwards.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,  אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנֻכָּה.


Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.


Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, whose commandments add holiness to our lives, and commanded us to light the Chanukah lights.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה.


Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu bayamim ha-haheim, bazman hazeh.


Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this season. [Some translate it as “in those days and in our time.”]


On the first night only, we add She-hecheyanu:


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.


Baruch ata Adonay, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-hecheyanu v’ki’y’manu v’higi-anu lazman hazeh.


Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.


While lighting the candles or just after, recite the following paragraph in Hebrew or English or chant it to the recorded melody:


הַנֵּרוֹת הַלָּלוּ אֲנַֽחְנוּ מַדְלִיקִים עַל הַנִּסִּים וְעַל הַנִּפְלָאוֹת וְעַל הַתְּשׁוּעוֹת וְעַל הַמִּלְחָמוֹת,  שֶׁעָשִֽׂיתָ לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה, עַל יְדֵי כֹּהֲנֶֽיךָ הַקְּדוֹשִׁים.  וְכָל שְׁמוֹנַת יְמֵי חֲנֻכָּה הַנֵּרוֹת הַלָּלוּ קֹֽדֶשׁ הֵם, וְאֵין לָֽנוּ רְשׁוּת לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בָּהֶם , אֶלָּא לִרְאוֹתָם בִּלְבָד , כְּדֵי לְהוֹדוֹת וּלְהַלֵּל לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל,  עַל נִסֶּֽיךָ וְעַל נִפְלְאוֹתֶֽיךָ וְעַל יְשׁוּעָתֶֽך. 


Hanerot halalu anachnu madlikin al hanisim v’al ha-nifla-ot v’al ha-teshuot v’al hamilchamot, she-asita lavoteinu bayamim ha-heim bazman hazeh, al y’dei kohanecha hakedoshim. V’chol shmonat y’mei Chanukah hanerot halalu kodesh heim, v’ein lanu reshut l’hishtamesh bahem, ela lirotam bilvad, k’dei l’hodot ul’halel l’shimcha hagadol, al nisecha v’al niflotecha v’al yeshuatecha.


These candles, which we light, are for the miracles and wonders, the saving acts and victories that you performed for our ancestors in those days at this season, through your holy priests. All eight days of Chanukah these candles are holy, and we are not permitted to use them, only to look at them, in order to give thanks and praise to your great name for your miracles, your wonders, and your saving deeds.


The following hymns, Maoz Tzur, actually has six stanzas in the standard Orthodox prayerbook praising God’s saving acts against various oppressors through history: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans. I have included the opening stanza and the one that is specific to Chanukah regarding the “Greeks.”


מָעוֹז צוּר יְשׁוּעָתִי לְךָ נָאֶה לְשַׁבֵּֽחַ,

תִּכּוֹן בֵּית תְּפִלָּתִי וְשָׁם תּוֹדָה נְזַבֵּֽחַ,

לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵּֽחַ מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּֽחַ,

אָז אֶגְמֹר בְּשִׁיר מִזְמוֹר חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ.


Maoz tzur yeshuati, l’cha na-eh l’shabei-ach, tikon beit tefilati v’sham todah nizabei-ach, l’eit tachin mat-beiach mitzar ham’nabei-ach, az egmor b’shir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ach. (Az egmor b’shir mizmor chanukat hamizbei-ach.)


Refuge, Rock of my salvation: to you it is a delight to give praise. Restore my House of prayer, so that there I may offer You thanksgiving. When you silence the loud-mouthed foe, then will I complete, with song and psalm, the altar’s dedication. (translation of Koren Siddur)


יְוָנִים נִקְבְּצוּ עָלַי אֲזַי בִּימֵי חַשְׁמַנִּים, 

וּפָרְצוּ חוֹמוֹת מִגְדָּלַי וְטִמְּאוּ כָּל הַשְּׁמָנִים,

וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂ הנֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים,

בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים.


Yevanim nikb’tzu alai azai biy’mei chashmanim, u-fartzu chomot migdalai v’tim’u kol ha-shmanim, umi-notar kankanim na-asah nes lashoshanim, b’nei vinah y’mei shmonah kavu shir urnanim. (B’nei vinah y’mei shmonah kavu shir urnanim.)


Then the Greeks gathered against me, in the days of the Hasmoneans. They broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils. But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought for Your beloved, therefore the Sages ordained these eight days for song and praise (translation of Koren Siddur).


Some prefer the English text to the same melody:


Rock of Ages let our song praise thy saving power.

Thou amidst the raging foe, wast our shelt’ring tower.

Furious they assailed us, but Thine arm availed us.

And Thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us. - 2x 


Quick Links



Chanukah blessingsRabbi Friedman
00:00 / 01:30
Hanerot HalaluRabbi Friedman
00:00 / 02:03
Maoz TzurRabbi Friedman
00:00 / 03:39

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