We continue with our theme for the this season, encompassing different aspects of light, both physical and spiritual.
During the eight days of Hanukkah the custom is to light every evening another candle on the Hanukkah candelabrum, which is better known by its Hebrew name cha•nu•ki•ya.
In the middle of the Hanukkah candelabrum there is the Sha•mash (the server) which is used to light the other candles. Hence, the Sha•mash is just an auxiliary candle for lighting the Channukah lamp. On the first night of Hanukkah we light the Shamash first, and with it we light the first candle. The next day, we light the Shamash, and with it two additional candles, and so on for the rest of the holiday. Therefore, the entire nine candles will be lit only on the last (the eight) night of the holiday.
The word ‘shamash’ is not mentioned in the Bible. It is interesting that the three letters of this name, ‘sheen,’ ‘mem,’ and ‘sheen’ are identical to those that make up the word ‘sun,’ ‘she•mesh.’ Since the sun is a source of light, heat, and fire, it is possible that there was an ancient connection for the choice of this word for the Hanukkah server candle, giving the choosing of the word ‘shamash’ two perfect reasons.
The word ‘shamash’ comes from a root that includes the same letters and it means ‘use.’ Sha•mash also means ‘beadle,’ ‘janitor’ and ‘custodian.’