Why do we light the new candle first?

My son (4th grade) had a class Chanukah party, for which he was aked to prepare a devar Torah. A short vertl, a question and answer to fit in less than a minute.

My son wanted to know why we light the Chanukah menorah starting from the left candle and working your way to the right. Usually mitzvos start on the right! He was so drawn to this question, he was going to present it even though he didn’t have an answer.

Here’s what we eventually came up with (2 minutes before “showtime”):

One of the most important things in Yahadus is to constantly growing, to always try to be a greater tzadiq than one was the day before. We light the left candle first because it is the new candle. As we rule (following Beis Hillel), we light every day more than the day before because “ma’alin beqodesh velo moridin – we ascend in holiness, not refress”. We therefore start with the symbol of progress.

5 thoughts on “Why do we light the new candle first?

  1. I think that ti is simple the applciation fo teh principle of Maalin bakodesh. Each candle place had as much kedusha as the number of times it has already been lit. You start with one that has not yet been lit, then go to one that is being lit for the 2nd time, then 3rd time etc – maalin bakodesh.

  2. The more prosaic explanation is probably that when lighting in the doorway, we light the side closest to the door first, as that’s the essential mitzvah.

    But I wonder — do we really consider the rightmost candle of day 2 to be the same candle as the rightmost of day 1? In which case, it would be “tadir veshe’eino tadir, tadir qodem” to start on the right!

    -mi

  3. according to comedian Yisrael Campbell, he was taught that the reason we light the newest candle first is like covering the hhala at Qiddush so that it won’t be “embarrassed” — the newest candle is new, so it’s unsure of itself and it needs to go first in order to face its anxiety.

    of course, as he points out, all the other candles are equally new, since their *predecessors burned down the previous night(s)*…

And your thoughts...?