We have already established that in order to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, our Sages enacted that one must light Chanukah candles every night during the holiday of Chanukah.
The Order of the Blessings
When lighting the Chanukah candles on the first night of Chanukah, one must first recite three blessings before lighting: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Le’Hadlik Ner Chanukah,” “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Asa Nissim La’Avotenu Bayamim Hahem Ba’Zeman Hazeh,” and “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Shehecheyanu Ve’Kiyemanu Ve’Higianu La’Zeman Hazeh.”
On all subsequent nights, the “Shehecheyanu” blessing is omitted; only the “Le’Hadlik Ner Chanukah” and “She’Asa Nissim La’Avotenu” blessings are recited. (If one forgets to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on the first night, one may recite it on the second night.)
The Sefer Mateh Moshe (Chapter 580) writes that there is a sign to remember the order of the blessings based on what is written in the following verse (Bamidbar 21): “Make for yourself a fiery serpent (hinting to the blessing of “Le’Hadlik Ner Chanukah”) and place it on a pole (“Ness” in Hebrew; hinting to the blessing of “She’Asa Nissim”); it shall be that anyone who has been bitten shall gaze at it and live (hinting to the “Shehecheyanu” blessing).”
Taking Care to Light the Wicks Well
Some customarily light the candles and immediately upon seeing that the wick catches fire, they remove their hand and move on to the next candle. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that this is incorrect, for one should take care when lighting not to remove one’s hand until the flame has caught onto the wick well (i.e. that the flame engulfs a majority of the wick). This is similar to what the Poskim write regarding lighting Shabbat candles that a woman should make sure to light “most of what emerges from the head of the wick.” The same applies to lighting Chanukah candles; since one recites the blessing of “Le’Hadlik Ner Chanukah,” one must make sure to light it well on one’s own.