Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hanukkah

Hanukkah



 
Hanukkah
Hanukkah
A Hanukkiya or Hanukkah Menorah
Official nameHebrew: חֲנֻכָּה or חנוכה
English translation: "Establishing" or "Dedication" (of the Temple in Jerusalem)
Also calledFestival of Lights, Festival of Dedication
Observed byJews
TypeJewish
SignificanceThe Maccabees successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to the Talmud, a late text, the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough sacred oil for one day's lighting.
Begins25 Kislev
Ends2 Tevet or 3 Tevet
2012 dateSunset, December 8 to nightfall, December 16
CelebrationsLighting candles each night. Singing special songs, such as Ma'oz Tzur. Reciting Hallel prayer. Eating foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sufganiyot, and dairy foods. Playing the dreidel game, and giving Hanukkah gelt
Related toPurim, as a rabbinically decreed holiday.
Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה, Tiberian: Ḥănukkāh, usually spelled חנוכה, pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew; a transliteration also romanized as Chanukah, Chanukkah or Chanuka), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.

 Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎, "attendant")[1] and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves is forbidden.[2]


Boy lighting Hanukkah candles
The name "Hanukkah" derives from the Hebrew verb "חנך", meaning "to dedicate". On Hanukkah, the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple.[3]

Many homiletical explanations have been given for the name:[4]
  • The name can be broken down into חנו כ"ה, "they rested on the twenty-fifth", referring to the fact that the Jews ceased fighting on the 25th day of Kislev, the day on which the holiday begins.[5]
חנוכה (Hanukkah) is also the Hebrew acronym for ח נרות והלכה כבית הלל — "Eight candles, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel". This is a reference to the disagreement between two rabbinical schools of thought — the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai — on the proper order in which to light the Hanukkah flames. Shammai opined that eight candles should be lit on the first night, seven on the second night, and so on down to one on the last night. Hillel argued in favor of starting with one candle and lighting an additional one every night, up to eight on the eighth night. Jewish law adopted the position of Hilleldit] Historical sources

Maccabees, Mishna and Talmud

The story of Hanukkah, along with its laws and customs, is entirely missing from the Mishna apart from several passing references (Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6). Rav Nissim Gaon postulates in his Hakdamah Le'mafteach Hatalmud that information on the holiday was so commonplace that the Mishna felt no need to explain it. Reuvein Margolies[6] suggests that as the Mishnah was redacted after the Bar Kochba revolt, its editors were reluctant to include explicit discussion of a holiday celebrating another relatively recent revolt against a foreign ruler, for fear of antagonizing the Romans.


Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusalem about 1900

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible); they are apocryphal books instead. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, written about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees. [7]

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, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).[8]

The Talmud presents three options:
  1. The law requires only one light each night per household,
  2. A better practice is to light one light each night for each member of the household
  3. The most preferred practice is to vary the number of lights each night.
Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door, on the opposite side of the Mezuza, or in the window closest to the street. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle.

[edit] Narrative of Josephus


Various menorot used for Hanukkah. 12th through 19th century, CE

The ancient Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus narrates in his book Jewish Antiquities XII, how the victorious Judas Maccabeus ordered lavish yearly eight-day festivities after rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem that had been profaned by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Josephus does not say the festival was called Hannukkah but rather the "Festival of Lights":

"Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival. Judas also rebuilt the walls round about the city, and reared towers of great height against the incursions of enemies, and set guards therein. He also fortified the city Bethsura, that it might serve as a citadel against any distresses that might come from our enemies."[9]

Other ancient sources

The story of Hanukkah is alluded to in the book of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. The eight-day rededication of the temple is described in 1 Maccabees 4:36 et seq, though the name of the festival and the miracle of the lights do not appear here. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq according to which the relighting of the altar fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the 25th of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabee.



Another source is the Megillat Antiochus. This work (also known as "Megillat HaHasmonaim", "Megillat Hanukkah" or "Megillat Yevanit") is in both Aramaic and Hebrew; the Hebrew version is a literal translation from the Aramaic original. Recent scholarship dates it to somewhere between the 2nd and 5th Centuries, probably in the 2nd century,[10] with the Hebrew dating to the 7th century.[11] It was published for the first time in Mantua in 1557. Saadia Gaon, who translated it into Arabic in the 9th century, ascribed it to the Maccabees themselves, disputed by some, since it gives dates as so many years before the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE.[12] The Hebrew text with an English translation can be found in the Siddur of Philip Birnbaum.

The Christian Bible refers to Jesus being at the Jerusalem Temple during "the Feast of Dedication and it was winter" in John 10:22-23, the Greek term used is "the renewals" (Greek ta engkainia τὰ ἐγκαίνια).[13] Josephus refers to the festival as "lights."[14]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah

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Thanks for sharing. Blessings on your head from the Lord Jesus, Yeshua HaMashiach.

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Founder/President
Love For His People
Charlotte, NC USA