Hanukkah and the Menorah

Chanukah, also known as the Maccabees or the Festival of Lights. is celebrated for eight days in commemoration of the miracle of the oil tin in the Second Temple and is a reminder of the way the Hasmoneans did, and especially the victory of the spirit over power. Hanukkah customs are many, diverse and beloved to all of us. Every custom has a fascinating reason, which accompanies us from ancient times to the present day, creates unity, closeness, and ensures that we will always remember and not forget.

The custom of lighting candles – On Hanukkah, eight candles are lit, symbolizing the time when a single oil jar was available, located on the outskirts of the Temple. After the destruction of the Second Temple by the Greeks, the Maccabees sought to regain control of this holy place. The road was not easy, but eventually, a small and determined group of Jews (Maccabees) succeeded in restoring control. In the Temple, there was terrible destruction. A small tin of oil was supposed to light the lamp for one day, but it lasted eight whole days. In order to commemorate the above miracle, the holiday continues in our days, and we commanded to light candles.

The Menorah

The menorah that we light at home symbolizes the Menorah in the Temple. The candles are lit each day, from left to right, about half an hour before the stars come out. The lighting of the candles is accompanied by a specific blessing, unlike candle lighting for Shabbat, which marks the gratitude to God and the miracle that was done to our forefathers in the Temple, in those days. It is forbidden to use them or turn off the Chanukah candles. Therefore, the candles should shine and illuminate the house in their light.

In some homes, there is a custom of prohibiting women from working while the candles are lit, in order to honor them and enjoy their light.

The custom of the dreidels

The custom of the dreidels – Chanukah has additional customs. Among other things, the love of our children is the custom of dreidels. The Greeks forbade the Jews to study Torah, so they learned the Oral Torah and camouflaged learning by playing with dreidels. On the dreidel are the letters נ,ג,ה,פ or נ,ג,ה,ש (a great miracle was here, or a great miracle was there). Today the children play in the dreidels, in order to remember the courage and the way of the Jews who saw learning and dealing with Torah as an important and necessary thing and found creative ways to continue to deepen our Torah.

The custom of pancakes and donuts

The custom of pancakes and donuts – high-fat foods characterize Chanukah. This is another way to remember the miracle of this important oil dish. Over the years, a tradition of eating donuts and pancakes, favorite dishes, fried in oil has evolved, making the holiday especially joyful.

In the same context, it is customary to give children Chanukah gifts, mainly coins or chocolate coins. The coins symbolize the light of the candles and the glamor that the oil can bring into the Temple. Even today, it is customary to give children Chanukah gifts, but it is important to note the essence of the holiday and for those who are careful, only coins should be given.

Hanukkah songs

Other Hanukkah customs are Hanukkah songs, especially during candle lighting, in order to symbolize the power of the Jewish people in the past and present and to thank God for the miracle he performed for Hashmonaim. On this holiday it is customary to tell the story of the heroism of the Maccabees of the Hasmonean, praise their heroism and pass on our strength so that we will strengthen and believe in the greatness of the people.

Chanukah customs are varied and have accompanied us for many years. The Jewish people love and cherish Chanukah, so this holiday is considered a happy holiday.

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