I notice that lighting candles is a big part of Judaism. We light candles every Friday for Shabbos, we light candles on every festival, and Chanukah is all about candles. What is the connection between candles and spirituality?
There is something about a flame that makes it more spiritual than physical. When you use something physical, it is diminished. The more money you spend, the less you have. The more petrol you use, the emptier your tank becomes. The more food you eat the more you need to restock your pantry.
But spiritual things increase with use. If I use my wisdom to teach, the student learns, and I come out smarter for it. If I share my love with another, I become more loving, not less. When I give a spiritual gift, the recipient gains, and I lose nothing. There is no better illustration of this than a candle. When you use one candle to light another, the original candle remains bright. Its light is not diminished by being shared, on the contrary, the two candles together enhance each others brightness and increase light. We sometimes worry that we may stretch ourselves too thin. In matters of spirit, it isn't true. The more goodness we spread the more goodness we have. By making a new friend you become a better friend to your old friends. By having another child you open a new corridor of love in your heart that your other children benefit from too. By teaching more students you become wiser. And by spending time on meaningful pursuits, you realise how precious each day is, and use your time better. Keep lighting your candles. There is a fire in your soul. You will never run out of light. Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah, Rabbi Moss
The festival of Chanukah lasts eight days. The Menorah is lit every night of Chanukah, beginning this Saturday night, December 24th until Saturday December 31st.
This Saturday night, the Menorah must be lit after Shabbos has ended, no earlier than 8:51pm. Next Saturday night, the last night of Chanukah, it should be lit after 8:53pm.
From Sunday to Thursday, the earliest time to light is 6:40pm, but preferably should be lit after sundown (8:08pm). The candles should be either oil or wax, and should remain lit for at least half an hour after nightfall (nightfall is 8:39pm).
On Friday evening, the Menorah should be lit before Shabbos candles are lit, no earlier than 6:40pm and no later than 7:51pm, again ensuring that there is enough oil or wax to last until half an hour after nightfall (8:39pm).
On the first night one candle is set at the right of the Menorah and kindled. Each night another candle is added.
The newest light, which is the one furthest to the left, is always kindled first.
Use a "Shamash" (service candle) to kindle the lights, and then place it in its special place on the Menorah.
It is a mitzvah to light the Menorah in the home where you sleep. It is not sufficient to be present at a public menorah lighting, or at a friend's house.
All members of the family should be present at the kindling of the Chanukah lights. Those who live alone should also kindle Menorahs in their home.
The Chanukah lights are lit either in the front window or by a doorway opposite the Mezuzah.