Ritual for the Sixth Night of Chanukah
There is a Talmudic statement that there are six seasons in the year. This ritual for the sixth night of Chanukah honors the six seasons and reimagines Chanukah as a rededication of the earth, for the earth is the Temple where we all live and serve.
While it is common to think of there being four seasons, according to Gen.
9:22 the seasons number six. When Noah emerges from the ark, the Creator
makes a covenant with Noah and all of creation by means of a rainbow,
saying: "As long as the days of the earth endure, seedtime and harvest, cold and
heat, summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease." We also see the number six in our six pointed star, the six directions in nature (north, south, east, west, up, down), and six visible colors in the rainbow. Six is the balance and beauty of the physical world.
The source of light for the menorah and for the warmth of the world is the
"shamash", which means both "servant" and "sun." "Shamash" is the name of the
distinct lighter candle on the menorah. Chanukah, the holiday of the shamash is a time to honor the turning of the seasons and the light of the sun.
Before lighting the candles, say the traditional blessings for lighting
1. Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, Sovereign of the universe, who has
sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the
1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu
Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-had-lik Ner shel Cha-nu-kah.
2. Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, Sovereign of the universe, who
performed miracles for our ancestors in those days, at this time.
2. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam She-a-sa Ni-sim
La-avo-te-nu Ba-ya-mim Ha-hem Bi-z'man Ha-zeh.
(Editor's note: if your custom is to say blessings in the feminine, the
blessings are as follows:
1. Beruchah at Shekhinah, Eloheinu ruach ha'olam, asher kidshatnu bemitzvoteha vetzivatnu lehadlik ner shel Chanukah.
2. Beruchah at Shekhinah, Eloheinu ruach ha'olam, she'asta nisim le'imoteinu va'avoteinu bayamin hahem bazman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Divine Presence, Spirit of the World, who has made miracles for our mothers and fathers in those days at this season.)
Now as you light the candles from right to left say:
"As long as the days of earth endure, seedtime (light the first candle) and
harvest (light the second candle), cold (light the third candle) and heat
(fourth candle), summer (fifth candle) and winter (sixth candle), and day
and night (look at the last unlit branches), shall not cease"."
We honor the one who turns the wheel of the seasons and who has
sustained us on this earth. The lit menorah candles are a rainbow of light, the promise to the world that the seasons will continue to turn.
The next Hebrew month of Tevet, which begins tonight, includes the date of Jan. 1, the new year of many nations. As we tell the story of Chanukah miracles done for the Jewish people, we also pray for blessing for all the nations of the world.
Karen Enfield is a writer and ritual-maker on the West Coast.
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