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Hanukkah-The Festival of Lights

December 2, 2010

Chanukah sometimes spelled Hanukkah is an eight-day festival on the Jewish calendar that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev. This year it began on Thursday Dec 2 and continues thru Dec 9th. It commemorates  the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BC.

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to God. The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 21, focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days, the time it took to have new oil pressed and made.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

On Hanukkah observant Jews add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in their daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to God for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few… the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

Hanukkah customs include eating foods fried in oil — latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nungimmelheiand shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, tochildren.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Gordon permalink
    December 2, 2010 11:26 am

    The obvious parallel to the gospel is that Jesus is the light of the world. The person who follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the light of LIFE.

    Now is not the time to be unkind to Jewish people. We must love them and respect their holiday. At the same time we must bear witness to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. He is their Messiah too. They just reject Him.

    There is nothing wrong with wishing a Jew Happy Hanukkah. If you have a Jewish friend, do so! And as the opportunity arises share your faith in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!

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