Blessings are at the core of most Jewish holidays and rituals, and Chanukah is no different. Before lighting the candles we say two blessing, one for the commandment to light Chanukah candles, one for the miracle that was performed for our ancestors in the time of the Maccabees. On the first night we also say Shehechiyanu, a blessing of thanksgiving for bringing us to this day.
When you think of blessings, you may think of good wishes, of making something holy. But Hebrew blessings are different. Most Hebrew blessings begin Baruch Ata Adonai, which means, Blessed are you, God. We’re not blessing the candles, or the challah, or the ritual in front of us, we’re blessing God (or the Universe, or the Source of Creation, or the Great Magical Unifier) for giving us the opportunity to experience the special moment of the present.
Even if you don’t believe in God, Hebrew blessings can be a powerful way to express gratitude. It’s a moment to stop and reflect, to feel thanks for the experience.
If you’re not comfortable using the traditional blessings on Chanukah, try listing things you feel grateful for each night. Start with one thing on the first night, and build up to eight on the last night.
1. Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-Olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.
2. Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-Olam, she’asah nissim la’avoteinu ba’yamim ha-hem bazman ha’zeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonderous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
* On the first night, we add:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam shehehiyanu v’kiyemanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.
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