The difference between the hanukkiah and the menorah lies in the number of candles each holds as well as the purpose and time of year each is used.
The hanukkiah is a type of candelabra that holds 9 candles and has 8 branches. The menorah is a similar candelabra with branches. However, it is a 7-lamp candelabra with 6 branches.
The Hanukkiah’s Connection to Hanukkah
The hanukkiah is used as a symbol to observe and remember the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah—a time when a small and humble family, named the Maccabees, refused to allow the Hellenistic culture to cut off their devotion to the God of Israel.
Click HERE to read more about their story…
When Is Hanukkah Celebrated?
Hanukkah begins each year on the 25th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar. This Hebrew date typically falls in the middle to end of December according to the Gregorian calendar that most Westernized countries use. This year, the 25th of Kislev begins at sunset on December 22, 2019, and the eight day Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) celebration concludes at sunset on December 30, 2019.
How Many Candles Are Lit for Hanukkah?
Because the hanukkiah is the menorah specifically for Hanukkah, it has 8 candles that are lit from the center candle called the shamash, or “helper” candle. This is in contrast to the typical menorah, which has 7 candles and is lit throughout the year.
Lighting the hanukkiah is something you and your family can do to commemorate God’s faithfulness, provision, and goodness. It is a way for you and your family to partake in a tradition that is tied to the Hebraic roots of your faith, resting in the knowledge that your Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach, also observed the festival.
Lighting the hanukkiah during this season can realign you with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as you step into His calendar.
Click HERE to discover the spiritual blessings of Hanukkah that help you leave the legacy to your family.
Did Jesus Observe Hanukkah?
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”—John 10:22-23
The account here in John reflects that Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, had become a well-established festival commemorating events that took place during the period of time between the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus walked into the Temple during this festival, indicating His observance of it.
How Do You Light the Hanukkiah?
To light the hanukkiah, you will need to purchase an 8-branched hanukkiah menorah that holds the 9 candles (you can find your hanukkiah and candles HERE), along with matches or a lighter.
Step 1. Place your hanukkiah in or near a window. Traditionally, the hanukkiah was placed on the left side of the home, facing the street so others could see the light. However, you don’t have to place your hanukkiah in this particular spot to still experience the blessings from the holiday.
Step 2. Place a candle in the far-right branch of the hanukkiah as you are facing it. It was customary to light the first candle at sundown on the first evening of Hanukkah. This year the first day of Hanukkah begins at sunset, December 22, 2019.
Step 3. Light the shamash candle and use it to light the first candle. Again, traditionally, blessings were spoken when lighting the candle. After reciting the blessings, the still-lit shamash candle was placed in the center holder of the hanukkiah.
Understand that the entire experience of lighting the hanukkiah is not about perfection, but about connection.
It is about honoring the Lord by declaring what He has done for you through Yeshua. It is about blessing the Lord as He has blessed us by His light.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”—Psalm 103:2
What Can You Do While the Hanukkiah Candles Are Lit?
The amount of time the candles are lit is up to you and your family. Typically, they are lit anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours.
During that time, many families enjoy sharing a meal together, singing songs of worship, meditating and praying, spending time in God’s Word, and praising Him for His goodness.
When Do You Light the Menorah?
Lighting the menorah dates back to the time of the First Temple in Jerusalem. As mentioned before, the menorah has 6 branches with 7 candles. While the Temple was in Jerusalem, it was customary for the high priests to light the menorah every day at sundown.
You may have noticed that we, at Curt Landry Ministries, light the Shabbat candles, which are placed in a menorah, every Friday night.
This is done in a similar way to lighting the hanukkiah, as the candles are lit right to left. We do have a center candle that is raised in the 7-lamp menorah to represent Yeshua.
It is lit first, followed by the far-right candle, moving left to the final 7th candle. The center candle, however, is not used to light the others.
While lighting the menorah, we at Curt Landry Ministries say the following blessing in Hebrew, followed by the English version.
- “Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.”
- Which means… “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Shabbat.”
Traditionally, Shabbat candles are lit by a woman of the house. After lighting them, she waves her hands over the flames three times, ushering in the Shabbat rest, and then places her hands briefly over her eyes.
Again, this is not about performing these traditions in a legalistic way, but about experiencing more of God through these actions.
There are similarities between the hanukkiah and the menorah, but each one serves a different purpose and is lit at different times of the year. The hanukkiah is a type of menorah lit for the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah.
The menorah can be lit daily, but we typically light it before we begin any service or feast to usher in the rest that the Lord has prepared for us.
During Hanukkah, it is customary to light your hanukkiah before lighting your Shabbat candles.
The entire process is not about the customs themselves, but about connecting us to God by experiencing more of how He set up the patterns and customs through the Jewish people. It is about remembering His goodness and faithfulness and believing that the King and Creator of the universe cares for each of us. We all have a part in His story, a legacy to live, and life to bless.
So, let us move forward this holiday season and connect to the Light of the World and remember that because of Him, we no longer walk in darkness.
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”—John 8:12