Ending Hanukkah, A Ritual

Photo Credit: Dr. Len Radin on Flickr

The idea for this ritual came about when a comment was made that when a lit candle is used to light other candles, that first candle’s flame doesn’t diminish; rather each flame becomes whole unto itself. When we kindle lights, we bring that light not only into our own physical spaces, but into our hearts and souls as well. It’s then our task to take that light, that Divine spark, and send it out into the world. 

Unlike the endings of Shabbat and festivals—when Havdalah marks the separation between the holy and the mundane—there’s no ritual to mark this ending, and I’d like to propose one. 

The traditional Havdalah blessing invokes the One who separates “the holy from the mundane,” “Shabbat or the Festival from the regular days,” and “the light from the darkness.” The spices that we smell during the Havdalah ceremony acknowledge a desire to linger just a little longer in the sweetness of the day before returning to the world. 

The ritual below helps us bring the light of Hanukkah into the rest of the year, to move from “light to light.” We do this by lighting the full hanukiah the day after Hanukkah, essentially adding a ninth night (after sunset, when the holiday officially ends). This is a wonderful time to also acknowledge the role of the shamash, the “helper” candle, without which we wouldn’t be able to kindle the rest of the lights. 

A Ritual To End Hanukkah

On the ninth night, the day after Hanukkah ends, light the shamash, and pause before lighting the other candles. Take a moment to acknowledge the shamashim, the helpers, in our lives. Recite the following blessing, and then light the eight candles of the hanukiah.

Modim anakhnu lakh – We give thanks to You
N’vareikh et Ruakh ha-Olam – We bless the Eternal Spirit
Ha Meiyvi otanu mei-or la or, v’notein lanu koakh l’havi et ha-or la-olam kulo – Who brings us from light to light, gives us strength to bring that light to the entire world.

May our light continue to shine out into the world during Hanukkah and all year.

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