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When lighting my Menora, saying the relevant Brachot, and lighting the Shamash, what order should I follow?

I think the best way is: 1. Shamash 2. Brachot 3. Chanukah-Lights

But someone said, the right way is: 1. Brachot 2. Chanukah-Lights 3. Shamash

What do poskim say?

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I never heard the second opinion. Why then would it be called the Shamash!? – Ephraim Nov 28 '13 at 13:47
Answer of Imanonov here judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/23/… says so. But it's unclear what ashkenazic Poskim would say. – Daniel Nov 28 '13 at 14:03
Who cares when you light the Shamash? – Double AA Nov 28 '13 at 14:14
@DoubleAA Rav Essas here evrey.com/sitep/askrabbi2/… says it in Russian. – Daniel Nov 28 '13 at 14:20
Shamash last? I thought you were supposed to use the shamash to light the rest? – Monica Cellio Nov 28 '13 at 17:08
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think an answer can be inferred from the Aruch Hashulchan's detailed discussion in 673:9-12. He sources the Tur, who says explicitly that there are two non-mitzva lights in addition to the official Chanuka lights. One is a "helper light" called the shamash and the other is an "extra" one.

The shamash is used to light the other light(s). In practice this one must be lit first. As the general principle of saying brachos over la'asiyas mitzvos (i.e. immediately before performance) applies here, I would assume that the b'rachos would be recited in between the shamash and the real lights.

The extra light serves the purpose of ensuring that the increased visibility in the room is attributable to a non-mitzva source and therefore usable. The Tur clearly says that this light is lit after¹ the mitzva light(s) and is not called a shamash.

The two primary transmitters of the Tur's words - Rav Yosef Karo and Rav Moshe Iserles disagree about how to differentiate this light from the others, but it does seem that they conflate it functionally with the shamash, resulting in only one candle. The Aruch Hashulchan concludes by recommending satisfying all aforementioned opinions by using a shamash and then leaving it near to but distinctively from the other light(s).

¹It does appear interestingly that it should be the last one lit so that the official lights are physically grouped together but that designating one of the middle lights as the extra one might not invalidate anything.

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So in the end since we only light one non-mitzvah candle, the question as to whether it is lit first or last cannot be answered - is it primarily a shamash and so should be lit first, or is it primarily the extra light and should be lit last. Unless we say that since it is also a shamash and should be used to light the other candles, then this would mandate that it be lit first. (I think this argument is the most reasonable, and FTR I light it first) – user4523 Nov 28 '13 at 16:03
I came to the conclusion of your last possibility as well due to the physical constraints that definition imposes. – WAF Nov 28 '13 at 16:05
From the text in the Shulchan Aruch (673:1), it does not appear that the Mechaber and Remah are talking about the same candle. Mechaber == "ונוהגים להדליק נר נוסף כדי שאם ישתמש לאורה יהיה לאור הנוסף שהוא אותו שהודלק אחרון" -- an extra candle, lit last. Remah == " ובמדינות אלו אין נוהגים להוסיף רק מניח אצלן השמש שבו מדליק הנרות" -- the Shamash, lit first. ---- en.wikisource.org/wiki/Shulchan_Aruch/Orach_Chaim/673 – Menachem Nov 29 '13 at 6:41
@Menachem I should reword that in my answer but I think that's why Aruch Hashulchan called using one candle for both יציאה לכל הדעות. – WAF Nov 29 '13 at 15:02

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