Written by: Erin Parfet

Hanerot Hallalu

The Hanerot Hallalu (“these candles”) often proceeds Chanukah candle lighting and blessings partaken in during synagogue services or even in the home. Hanerot Hallalu can be either recited as a prayer or sung as a song, depending on the format in which a congregation or family chooses.

It is an ancient chant reminding the Jewish people of the miracles of Chanukah while forbidding the use of the 36 lights (excluding the shamash) used to mark the Chanukah festival for any other purpose, including Shabbat, as directed in Soferim 20:6 of the Talmud.

As the Shulchan Aruch states, “One may not use the Chanukah candle even for another holy task like studying Torah [or making Havdalah during Chanukah]. However, some rabbis [from Provence, France] permit secondary holy uses.” The Shulchan Aruch is often referred to as the Code of Jewish Law in English and is considered a widely consulted resource for Jewish legal codes, originally compiled in Israel in the 1500s and expanded on since with commentaries by various authors. It is considered to primarily follow the laws and customs of the Sephardic Jews.

Little has been found as to a more in-depth history of the Hanerot Hallalu other than the Talmudic directive, which was re-emphasized by the writings in the Shulchan Aruch. 

The Chanukah miracle and rededication of the temple are considered by some rabbis to impart a type of holiness to the candles used for Chanukah. Therefore, Chanukah lights are not to be used as lamps or light sources in any circumstance. The use of Chanukah candles is not even to be intermingled with the use of Shabbat candles, which are intended to provide light and ambience at a Shabbat meal, as well as remind the Jewish people of God as the source of all light in the world and the light that is the Shabbat.

Transliteration

Hanerot halalu anachnu madlikin
Al hanissim ve'al haniflaot
Al hatshu-ot ve'al hamilchamot
She-asita la'avoteynu
Bayamim hahem, bazman hazeh
Al yedey kohanecha hakdoshim.
Vechol shmonat yemey Chanukah
Hanerot halalu kodesh hem,
Ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtamesh bahem
Ela lirotam bilvad
Kedai lehodot leshimcha
Al nissecha veal nifleotecha ve-al yeshuotecha.

Translation

We light these lights
For the miracles and the wonders,
For the redemption and the battles
That you made for our forefathers
In those days at this season,
Through your holy priests.
During all eight days of Chanukah
These lights are sacred
And we are not permitted to make
Ordinary use of them,
But only to look at them;
In order to express thanks
And praise to Your great Name
For your miracles, Your wonders
And your salvations.

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