Happy Hanukkah!

“We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make ordinary use of them except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.”

Hanukkah is a holiday in which a miracle is marked; it begins at sunset, on the twenty-fifth of Kislev of the Jewish lunar calendar, which on the Gregorian calendar is December 24, with the celebration ending on January 1, 2017.

We would like to take this moment, to wish joy and hope to all those marking the Festival of Lights, which observes the rededication of the Temple, in Jerusalem, during the Maccabees revolt in 167 B.C.E., against the Syrian ruler Antiochus.  He had hoped to destroy Judaism by making it illegal to practice its observance, and during his reign over Israel, defiled the Temple – going so far as to sacrifice swine.

In wanting to cleanse and restore the Temple to its pure state, the Jews needed to burn uncontaminated olive oil. They found only enough oil for one day, but miraculously, the oil burned for eight days. Thus, this miracle is celebrated with the daily lighting of a menorah, commemorating the restoration of the Temple.

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his book Jewish Literacy writes about the menorah stating: “Jewish law dictates that the candles be placed near a window, so that passerby can see them from the street.  This is a fulfillment of the rabbinic dictum ‘to publicize the miracle.’  Indeed, this is the sole function of the Hanukka candles; it is forbidden to use them for any other purpose; one cannot, for example, read by the Hanukka lights, (it is fully permissible, however, to use the Sabbath lights for illumination).  During the time the candles are burning, it is also customary that women relax and not work.”  Such lovely thoughts.

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