# How to set up the candles on the Menorah

## How to set up the candles on the Menorah:

In a straight line: One must be careful to set up the candles in a straight line as opposed to a circle.[1] Also, the candles may not be set up in a zigzag fashion, with one candle in and one candle out.[2] They should also not be set up in a way that some candles are higher than another.[3] There should be some distance between each candle in order so the flames do not appear like a single torch.[4] There should be a minimum distance of an Etzbah [2 centimeters] between each candle.[5] [Nevertheless, the candles are not to be too far apart, as one is to be able to tell that they are all part of that night’s lighting for that person.[6]]

Starting from the right side of the Menorah:[7] One positions the candles on the Menorah starting from the right of the Menorah [i.e. the right side from the direction that one is facing], and each night he subsequently adds a candle from right to left. [This applies whether the Menorah is positioned to the left of the doorpost, or the right of the doorpost, such as when there is no Mezuzah, and applies whether the Menorah is vertical or horizontal, and whether the utmost right side is further away from the doorpost or is closer to the doorpost.[8] This applies whether one is right or left handed.[9]]

The Shamash:[10] The Shamash is customarily placed together with the other candles although at a recognizable distance from them.[11] It is to be placed higher than the other Chanukah candles.[12] This can be accomplished either by having a Shamash that is longer than the rest of the candles[13], or by placing the Shamash on a higher plane than the rest of the candles.[14]

 Summary: The candles are to be set up in a straight line, with the candle of the first night set up on the uttermost right end, hence adding one more candle from right to left. The Shamash is to be slightly taller than the other candles.   Q&A Is one to first set up the candle on the far right or the candle of that night, which is on the far left, or does it not make a difference? The Poskim do not discuss this matter, hence implying that one may set it up in whichever order he desires, so long as the candles rest from a right to left position on the Menorah.   How close to each other should he candles be? The candles are to be at least a finger worth apart [2 centimeters].[15] This means that the flame of each candle should be at least a two-centimeter distance from the other flames.[16]

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[1] Rama 671:4; Hagahos Maimanis in name of Semag

The reason: As otherwise it appears like a torch, which is invalid. [Rama ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to set up the candles in a circle, being each candle is separated from the other. [Peri Chadash brought in Kaf Hachaim 671:29]

[2] M”A 671:3; M”B 671:15

The reason: As this can lead one to making them in a circle.

[3] Chayeh Adam 154:10; Kaf Hachaim 671:28

Other opinions: Some Poskim are lenient in this matter. [Mahariy Bruno 39 brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[4] M”A 671:4; Darkei Moshe 671:2; Chayeh Adam 154:10; Kitzur SHU”A 139:9; M”B 671:18; Kaf Hachaim 671:35

[5] M”B ibid; Elya Raba 671:8; Chayeh Adam ibid; Kaf Hachaim 671:34

[6] Pashut; Nitei Gavriel 22:7

[7] Siddur Admur; Sefer Haminhagim p. 159 [English]; Michaber 676:5; Maharik Shoresh 164 based on Mordechai in name of Rebbe Meir; Minhag Rinuss brought in Taz 675:6 and Terumos Hadeshen 106; Drashos Maharil Chanukah; Darkei Moshe 676:2; Peri Chadash 676; Elya Raba 676; Custom of Arizal as brought in Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Chanukah 19:4; Shaar Hakavanos 108; Chasam Sofer 187; Kitzur SHU”A 139:10; Aruch Hashulchan 676:11; Kaf Hachaim 676:31 that so is the final Halacha; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 676:6

Background: The debate regarding the positioning of the candles on the Menorah from right to left or left to right, is due to several factors. 1) Should one always light first the candle that is nearest to the doorway. [See Shaar Hakavanos ibid and Taz ibid] 2) Should one always start with the candle that is on the right side. [See Taz ibid] 3) Should one start from the left side so one can go from left to right. Practically, the above questions created several opinions in Poskim regarding how to set up the candles, and which candle to begin lighting with: Opinion 1: The mainstream approach, which is the widespread custom that is stated above in name of the Poskim ibid, is to always set up the candle from the right and light from left to right. In this approach, on the one hand we begin with the right side [as says option 2] and then go from left to right [as says option three]. [See Aruch Hashulchan 676:11] Opinion 2: Other Poskim however say that one is to always begin lighting from the right side and go from right to left [as says option 2]. [Minhag Astreich in Taz ibid and Terumos Hadeshen ibid; Tzemach Tzedek 66; Manuscript of son of Raavad in name of Eliyahu Hanavi] Accordingly, the additional candle must be set up on the foremost right side, which means that the first candle is to always be set up on the uttermost left side of the Menorah, so on the next nights one can begin lighting the additional candle from the far most right side. Opinion 3: Other Poskim rule that he is to light starting with the candle most adjacent to the doorpost. [Rashal 85, brought in M”A 676:4; Gra] Accordingly, one will always begin with the same candle each night [which is the first candle lit on the first night] and at times one will go from right to left, and at times from left to right, depending on the position of the Menorah. For example, if one is lighting in front of a door and placing the Menorah by the wall of the left doorpost, then he begins lighting on the farthest right-hand side, and lights from right to left each night. If he is lighting inside the room, behind the door and he places the Menorah on the wall which is on the right-hand side [opposite the Mezuzah] then he sets up the Menorah on the left-hand side, and lights from left to right each night. Opinion 4: Others rule that one is to light in a way that he comes closer to the doorpost each night, as well as always go from left to right. [Shaar Hakavanos 108] Hence, on the first night he to set up the first candle in the area that is furthest away from the doorpost, and light from left to right. To do so one must position the Menorah inside the room, to the right side of the wall [opposite the Mezuzah], and position the first candle to uttermost right side of the Menorah. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one is to set up the candles starting from the uttermost left side of the Menorah and add one candle to its right side every night. One is then to begin lighting the candle on the foremost right of the Menorah, and light from right to left. [Minhag Astreich in Taz ibid and Terumos Hadeshen ibid; Tzemach Tzedek 66; Manuscript of son of Raavad in name of Eliyahu Hanavi] Other Poskim rule that he is to light starting with the candle most adjacent to the doorpost, and hence at times he is to set up the candles rom left to right, and at times from right to left, depending on the direction of the Menorah and which side is most adjacent to the doorpost. [Rashal 85 brought in M”A 676:4; Gr”a]

[8] M”A 676:4 in name of Beis Yosef; Darkei Moshe; Elya Raba 676:9; Kaf Hachaim 676:32

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that he is to light starting with the candle most adjacent to the doorpost. Hence, when one is lighting inside the room, opposite the Mezuzah, he is set up the candles on the uttermost left side. So too, when lighting outside the room, but there is no mezuzah, he sets up the first candle on the uttermost left side. [Rashal 85; Gra] Due to this, some Poskim rule one is to position the Menorah vertically to the doorpost, hence causing that there is no candle that is closer to the doorpost than another, and one may begin with the left according to all. [Bach 676; M”A ibid; M”B 676 in name of Mateh Moseh; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 676:6] Shaar Hakavanos ibid records that one is to begin lighting with the candle that is furthers away from the doorpost and come closer each night. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 29]

[9] Beir Moshe 5:128; Piskeiy Teshuvos 676:6; ; Dinei Iter 20:2; Shevet Halevi 8:151; Shraga Hameir 7:9-3

[10] 673:1

[11] Michaber ibid

[12] Rama ibid “The Shamash should be longer than the other candles so if one comes to use the light of the Menorah one will use its light”; Sefer Haminhagim p. 159

[13] Rama ibid

[14] M”B 673:20

[15] Elya Raba; M”B 671:18

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 671 footnote 8 based on Elya Raba ibid