- The time for lighting the lights is at dusk. On the eve of Shabbat and on Motze Shabbat – click here. Post priori, (not on Shabbat) we may light with a blessing at any time after dark as long as there are people in the streets. For the blessings, click here.
- The lamps or candles need to burn for at least a half-hour after the stars come out. The Hanukiah is kept in the place it was lit for as long as the lights are burning. In other words, after the half-hour has passed it is permitted to move the Hanukiah to another place.
- It is customary to remain near the lamps for a half-hour as it is a mitzva to look at them.
Placing the Hanukiah and the lamps or candles:
- The Hanukiah is placed on the left side of the front door as you go in – opposite the mezuza, in order to be surrounded by mitzvot (or on a window ledge – on condition that the lights are visible in the house). The lights can be placed east-west or north-south or any other direction.
- The preferred height of the Hanukiah starts at 24 cm (9.5 inches) above the floor to 80 cm (32 inches), that is, that the flame should not be higher than 80 cm (32 inches) from the floor. Therefore those who place a Hanukiah on a chair or table should be careful that the total height is as above.
- The lamps in a Hanukiah need to stand in a straight line and be of equal height.
- There needs to be a space between each candle or oil-lamp so that they do not look like one large fire.
- The lamps are placed on the right side of the Hanukiah. On the first day, one candle, on the second day, two, until the eighth day – eight candles. The lamps are lit from left to right, in other words – the left-most “new” light is always lit first, and the lighting continues from left to right. The furthest right candle will always be the last lit.
- It is forbidden to use the light of the Hanukkah candles, or to light one from another. We therefore light a “Shamash” that can be used for any such need.
10. The “shamash” needs to stand above – or separately from – the other candles in order for it to be known that it is not counted with the lights of the mitzva.
11. Any kind of candle may be lit. For the mitzva is preferable to use olive oil and wicks.
12. The lights are lit in the house where a person normally eats, and it is preferable to light in the place where he eats to the place where he sleeps. Someone who eats by chance at his friend’s home needs to return to his own home to light.
13. Children should light the Hanukkah lights at the entrance to their bedroom [on condition that it is safe to do so.]
Lighting the Hanukkah Lights
When the lights are ready to be lit, whether candles or oil-lamps, we first say the blessings upon lighting. On the first night we say three blessings. On the following night we say two blessings [the third blessing, “Sheheheyanu” is for the first night only]. For the blessings – click here. After reciting the blessings, the lights are lit using the “Shamash” (we light it first). After lighting, we sing “Hannerot Halalu” – “These lights,” “Ma’oz Tzur” and other Hanukkah songs according to one’s custom.
While the Lights Burn
- Women do not do creative work while the Hanukkah lights burn, because of their special part in the Hanukkah miracle, but they are not forbidden from doing work for the purposes of eating or anything that she would do on Hol Hamo’ed.
- A flame that goes out within the time that it needs to remain lit – we relight it without a blessing.
- It is the custom to remain near the lights for a half-hour, and at this time we stay together with our family studying Torah or in the joy of the mitzva.