We're not sticklers for protocol -- we just sell Jewish-themed t-shirts -- but when it comes to Hanukkah, it's important to be on point. We know the prayers down pat, we can spin circles around you in a dreidel contest, and we already have the One Latke Recipe You Must Try.
But the rules of the menorah, on the other hand. Oy! Years of family strife and bickering over this. A shonda!
Back in the day, this was no problem. Ancient Jews didn't have any rules. You want eight candles? Go for it. Nine? Sure, add a shamas, knock yourself out. Seven? Eh, whatever, we'll make up for it later. Reuse the same candle each night? What a great way to save money!
Then the rabbis wrote the Talmud and next thing you know, conflict. Hillel wanted it one way, Shammai wanted it another way.
Like Dr. Dreidel split off from Latkes Wit Attitude in the early 1990s and joined with Snoop Gelty Gelt to record the famous song "Ain't Nuthin' But a 'J' Thang," Hillel broke away from Shammai and got the cool rabbis to go along with him. Now we light one candle the first night and add a candle each additional night.
But how? Left to right? Right to left? Up or down?
Here are the official instructions:
Place the menorah in a window. Put one candle in the right-most holder as you face the menorah from inside your house (to people outside, it will look like the left-most candle). Then add more candles for each night and light them from newest to oldest (left to right as you face the menorah).
Confused? Watch Rabbi Kauffman explain:
The wonderful thing about Hanukkah is that unlike gentiles, we don't simply light candles for one night. We do it for eight nights!