Chanukah - Feast of Dedication
Kislev 24-Tevet 1/Dec 10 -Dec 18
"Chanukah/Feast of Dedication" begins on the eve of Kislev 24, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality. Prophesied in Daniel 8:9-14 and took place 165 BCE when the temple was rededicated.
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 the service of G-d. When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
To commemorate these miracles, the sages instituted the Festival of Chanukah.
The Chanukiah is a specially designed menorah for Chanukah
The basic elements of a kosher menorah are eight holders for oil or candles and an additional holder, set apart from the rest, for the shamash ("attendant") candle.
The Chanukah lights can either be candle flames or oil-fueled. Since the miracle of Chanukah happened with olive oil – the little cruse of oil that lasted for eight days – an oil menorah is preferable to a candle one, and olive oil is the ideal fuel. Cotton wicks are preferred because of the smooth flame they produce.
Whenever purchasing a mitzvah article, we try to buy the most beautiful one that is within our means. So, if at all possible, go for the silver menorah. Beautifying a mitzvah is our way of expressing our appreciation to G?d, and showing how dearly we hold His commandments.
The eight candles of the menorah must be arranged in a straight, even line, not in a zigzag or with some lights higher than others. If it is an oil menorah, the oil cups must hold enough oil to burn for the required time – at least 30 minutes on weeknights, and up to one-and-a-half hours on Friday evening. If it is a candle menorah, the candles should be large enough to burn for the required time. Electric menorahs are great for display purposes, and are a wonderful medium for publicizing the Chanukah miracle. But the Chanukah lights used to fulfill the mitzvah should be real flames fueled by wax or oil – like the flames in the Holy Temple.
Prayers That Are Recited Are
Hallel and Al HaNissim, they offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few..and the wicked into the hands of the righteous."
Scripture to be Read
Day 1 ~ Numbers 6:22-7:17 & Zechariah 2:10-4:7
Day 2 ~ Numbers 7:18-29
Day 3 ~ Numbers 7:24-35
Day 4 ~ Numbers 7:30-41
Day 5 ~ Numbers 7:36-47
Day 6 ~ Numbers 7:42-47
Day 7 ~ Numbers 7:48-59
Day 8 ~ Numbers 7:54-8:4 & I Kings 7:40-50
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 nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for
Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there")
and the "Chanukah gelt" gifts of money to children.
For additional in depth information on Chanukah go to hebrew4christians.com.