Menorah Lighting: Meaning and History

MenorahThe Menorah stands for light, wisdom, and Divine inspiration.

By Clarissa Allison | December 19th, 2014

Originally beaten out of a solid piece of gold, the Menorah was a seven-branched candelabra which served as one of the sacred vessels in the Holy Temple. It stood in the southern part of the Temple and was lit every day by the High Priest with pure, fresh olive oil of the highest quality. The unique design stands as a symbol of Divine light spreading throughout the world. The Menorah’s exact purpose in the Holy Temple was to spread the light of Godliness to the entire world.

The seven lamps of the Menorah represent knowledge, with six of the branches signifying human wisdom. These are guided by the center branch of Divine light. Sages deduced that man’s shining character traits on the inside should reflect the holy actions taken on the outside, and vice versa. In this way, the Menorah teaches us to bring out every soul’s inner Divine light so that we shine internally and externally. The Menorah begins with a central stem that branches outwards, just as our demeanor, behavior, personality, and especially good deeds should branch out and influence others to illuminate the world around us. (source:

Lighting and Its Meaning

A Menorah must still be lit in every Jewish home on the holiday of Chanukah. Although today’s modern 9-branch Chanukah Menorahs are quite different from the original one used in the Temple, they still share the same basic function of spreading light. A Menorah is lighted, according to the Talmud, to commemorate the miracle of light, which is the purpose for which the holiday is celebrated. The laws and customs observed on Chanukah, especially the lighting of the Menorah, are designed to publicize the fact that Hashem performed miracles then, and continues to perform wonders in the personal lives of all Jewish people. As a reminder of the values that are the Jewish Nation’s very essence, the Menorah lives on as a powerful symbol for the Jewish people and the entire world.


Guidelines for Lighting the Menorah

1. Light the menorah right after nightfall, once it’s dark outside (aside for Friday afternoon, when the candles are lit shortly before sunset).

2. 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 olive 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 give a steady light!

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

4. The Chanukah candles cannot be used to light each other, which is why we the Shamesh Candle is used to light the Menorah. It’s not one of the 8 Chanukah candles, so is set 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.

5. The Chanukah candles are supposed to burn for at least a half hour. On Friday though, you must light them before it gets dark and Shabbat comes in. Generally use more oil, or bigger candles on Friday, so that the candles will stay burning, well into Shabbat!  (source:

Louie Lighting wishes your family a happy Holiday Season. Be sure to check out our new and improved website for the best in lighting fixtures, fans and lighting accessories. Call us at 1877 385 2104 Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm Arizona Time, or email


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