I learned a beautiful way to light Chanukah candles from my teacher Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel. Here is my interpretation and some additions. (To hear Jordan’s original video teaching, see the link below.)
Before you light the candles, arrange everything: menorah, candles and matches, blessing. Sit for a few moments in the darkness, in silence, just feeling what darkness feels like. See if you can rest in the darkness and take a few deep breaths in appreciation of that quiet space. When you are ready, say the Chanukah blessings and then light the shamash (main) candle – noticing how that one single candle lights up the darkness. As you light each successive candle (for however many nights it is) notice how the light grows. When all the candles are lit for that night, sit in silence and watch the candles as they burn. (If you get the less expensive candles, they burn down rather quickly…) THEN – notice how as the candles burn down, the darkness again increases.
Perhaps discuss afterwards:
- What did the darkness feel like?
- What did you notice about the flames themselves?
- What came up for you as the candles were lit one after another and the light grew? How did it feel when the candles burned down and the darkness came again? Does it feel different than the original darkness?
- Where in your life does light grow? Who is a candle for you?
- How can you be a candle in your own life or the life of others?
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appel’s video teaching: