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Hanukkah Recovery Insights–8 Nights Of Light & Healing

IMG_6855Hanukkah is the beloved festival of light. We celebrate by lighting candles or olive oil lamps, and through prayer, song, playing special games and eating delicious foods.

The Hanukkah story, and especially the menorah lights, are particularly relevant to those in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Hanukkah in essence, can be described as the triumph of spiritual light and lasting truth over darkness, emptiness, and falsehood.

8 Nights of Recovery Insights by the Light of the Menorah

  1. The lights themselves and how we experience them is unique—when we light the candles, we gaze at them for at least 30 minutes on each of the 8 nights. We use their light for nothing else, not even to read by. Be aware. Focus on the now. Live in the moment. Remember introspection too, and gaze at your own inner light. Acknowledge the dark places and try to rectify them.
  2. Each night the lights of the menorah (also called the Hanukiah) are added to, starting with one light until all are lit on the eighth night. Healing and inner light increase best one spark at a time. Go slow when making psycho-spiritual advances.
  3. The menorah must be lit in a doorway or window, so the lights can be viewed by the public. In Jerusalem, the menorahs are actually lit outside people’s homes, and many thousands illuminate the beautiful city. There are also public group menorah lighting ceremonies around the globe. The support of others is very important to recovery. Don’t go it alone. Be part of a community.
  4. The 8 candle holders or oil cups must be all on the same level. If not, the menorah is deemed unsuitable for the holiday. Don’t look down on anyone, be humble, work on building healthy relationships.
  5. The candle holders or oil cups must be in a straight, even line or the menorah can’t be used. Be straight, honest, and truthful.
  6. Electric menorahs might be pretty, but they can’t be used to fulfill the holiday requirements. Real flames from candles or oil are essential. Be genuine and real.
  7. When lighting the menorah we say special prayers and blessings. We express gratitude to God for having reached this point in time. Be grateful and remember where you came from.
  8. Beloved traditional hymns and songs are sung once we’ve lit the menorah. Find your simplest joys such as song, dance, and play. The more pure joy you bring into your life, the more you heal.




Hanukkah Recovery Insights–8 Nights Of Light & Healing

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2016). Hanukkah Recovery Insights–8 Nights Of Light & Healing. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Dec 2016
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