What are the guidelines for Hanukkah candle lighting by Noahides?

Menorah 8th night of Hanukkah

If you are a Gentile who is observant of the Torah’s Seven Noahide Commandments, you may be interested in lighting Hanukkah candles. If so, you can very easily buy or make a menorah lamp. All that is needed is a sturdy base with holders for 8 + 1 candles (a ninth candle is added, offset from the rest, which is used to light the main candles). Your intention for doing this should not be to fulfill the Rabbinical commandment, which is only for Jews, but rather for the practical objective to publicize the One G-d’s open miracles which He did in His physical and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people when they were oppressed by the Syrian-Greek empire in the second century BCE. By safely (!) lighting the Hanukkah candles in a place like a window sill when they can be seen at night by people who are walking or driving by, and speaking about this message to those who are with you, you can educate and remind them about the truth and greatness of the One G-d.

As verified by Rabbi Moshe Weiner (author of The Divine Code), Noahides may light Hanukkah candles with that intention, in the same manner as the Jewish custom (see below), but without reciting any of the associated Jewish blessings. (For Gentiles, those would be false statements said in G-d’s Name, G-d forbid, because they testify that the person lighting the candles is commanded to kindle the lights of Hanukkah, and that G-d did those miracles for “our fathers”, both of which apply only to Jews.) There are other readings and Psalms that a Noahide can say after lighting Hanukkah candles, and we have listed some suggestions below.

This year, Hanukkah starts Thursday, Dec. 10, 20’20, at sundown. (On each Friday night of Hanukkah, Jews should be careful to finish lighting the Hanukkah lights, and then light their Shabbat candles before sundown, in order to avoid profaning their Sabbath.) Hanukkah ends Friday, Dec. 18, 20’20, at sundown.

The traditional way light a menorah for Hanukkah:

  • The 8 Hanukkah lights should be candles or wicks in oil that begin burning at the same height.
  • The lights should be able to burn continuously for at least half an hour, and that half an hour should be sometime after nightfall (not earlier than about 20-30 minutes after sunset, depending on the location).
  • A proper menorah has 8 candle holders positioned in a straight row at the same height, with an additional holder for a “shamash” (“servant”) candle that is placed near but apart from the row of 8 Hanukkah lights (higher and/or outside the row). It is lit first, and it is then used to kindle the row of Hanukkah lights.
  • On the first night, one Hanukkah light is kindled on the right side of the menorah. On the second night, add a second light to the left of the first and kindle the additional light first, proceeding from left to right. This is done on each night for 8 nights.
  • The following statement, abridged for Noahides, is appropriate to be said after kindling the lights each night (other similar versions may be said as well): “We kindle these lights to commemorate the saving acts, miracles and wonders which You [G-d] have performed in those days at this time through Your holy Kohanim priests, in order to offer thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, for Your wonders and for Your salvations.”

Additionally or alternatively, Noahides can mark the days of Hanukkah in some other customary ways. This includes the option to  recite certain Psalms (any of chapters 30, 33, 67, 91, 133), and reading and thinking about the history and messages of Hanukkah. You can also attend the public lighting of outdoor Hanukkah menorahs that might be taking place near you during the festival (contact your local Chabad Center for more information about times and places). The following recitation paragraph, adopted from the Jewish traditional liturgy (version of the Ari Zal), can also be said at any time during all the days of Hanukkah (especially at the end of your prayer of thanks after eating a meal):

“We praise You, G-d, for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which you performed in those days, at this time: In the days of Matisyahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, the wicked Hellenic government rose up against the people of Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will. But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress. You waged their battles, defended their rights and avenged the wrong done to them. You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your world, and effected a great deliverance and redemption for the people of Israel to this very day. Then the Israelites entered the shrine of Your Holy House, purified and rededicated Your sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Hanukkah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.”

It’s a good thing to give extra charity during Hanukkah to a proper charitable institution or cause, or to needy individuals. It’s good to have a charity box or can (a “pushka“) in your home, that you can drop coins into frequently and then give them to a proper charity when it is filled up (click here for the A.R.K. charity box) .

Parents can give small gifts of money (Hanukkah “gelt”) to their children on some or all of the days, to teach them to put part of their money (for example 10%) into a charity box at home, to be given later to a proper charity.

It’s especially customary during Hanukkah to enjoying some Hanukkah recipes for oil-fried or dairy foods. The oil-fried foods are eaten to remember the miracle of the small jug of pure oil – only enough for one day – that was miraculously found and which then burned in the Temple’s menorah for 8 days after the Greek army retreated from Jerusalem. The dairy foods are eaten to remember the military victory of the Maccabee priests (Kohanim, descended from Aaron) over the Greeks. This is because Jerusalem was retaken by the Maccabee brothers through of the heroic act of Yehudit (or Yehudis), their righteous sister. (She came to the Greek general and fed him a feast of cheese and wine. When he fell asleep, she dealt to him the end he deserved, and the leaderless Greek army panicked and retreated.)

(Note: we recommend not to give gifts specifically as “Hanukkah presents” since this recent development distorts the true message of Hanukkah. Rather, gifts can be given just as at any other time.)

Links to more Hanukkah insights:

Four-part Audio Series on the historical events of Hanukkah

Lesson from Hanukkah to Publicize the 7 Laws of Noah

Expanded-edition video of the Rebbe’s talk on Thanksgiving and Hanukkah

Video presentation: A Miraculous Story for the Fifth Night of Hanukkah

Video lesson: The Kabbalistic Spin on the Hanukkah Dreidel

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