When Is Hanukkah
What Is Hanukkah
The Festival Of Lights
In Hebrew, Hanukkah—or Chanukah—means, "to dedicate." Technically speaking, it is an eight day celebration that begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month, Kislev. This generally corresponds to late November and late December on the secular calendar. Because the dates shift annually on the secular calendar, some find it difficult to keep track of just "when" Hanukkah begins. To help with this issue, at the bottom of this article I have provided you with a ten year table that defines years 2012 through 2021 for Hanukkah start and stop dates. We Jews call it Hanukkah, to remind us of the re-dedication of the holy temple in Jerusalem following the defeat of the Zeus worshiping Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus, in 165 B.C.E. You can discover more about the Hanukkah story, the menorah, the dreidel, and why each has become such a prolific icon for the Jewish people by reading further.
What Is The Menorah
What Does The Menorah Symbolize
The Menorah is a symbol of the miracle of the oil. After defeating the Jews in war, the Greeks had defiled the first Jewish temple by practicing animal (swine) sacrifices and worshiping foreign Greek gods. After many years, the Maccabees reacquired their land from the Greeks, but it would be necessary to purify the temple of the many disgraces that had taken place there. They would have to burn the temple's oil in the temple's menorah for a number of days; eight days to be exact.
The Jews Needed Eight Days Of Temple Oil
When time came to burn the temple's oil, they found only enough oil to burn for a single day; surely this would not be enough. These dedicated people continued with the purification ritual anyway; only to discover, to much surprise, that the oil did in fact burn for all of those eight days after all. This is known as the miracle of the Hanukkah oil. It is the reason for the annual celebration where Jews light a special menorah—hanukkiyah—for eight consecutive days as a reminder to all who observe Hanukkah, that the festival of lights reflects the miracle which occurred in the first temple.
Proper Lighting Of The Menorah
Always start at far right, use the ninth candle to light all of the other eight candles—the shamash, or attendant—is the ninth or middle candle, and is always lit first. The shamash is not counted among the eight candles of Hanukkah. It is customary to light the menorah right at or soon after sundown. Should Hanukkah happen to fall on Shabbot, it is very important to light the Hanukkiyah just before sundown. Light one candle a day, and recite prayers accordingly for each of the eight days.
Learn How To Light The Menorah Candles For Hanukkah
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What Is A Dreidel
The History Of The Dreidel
A dreidel is a spinning top that became an important Jewish icon in the second century. In 165 B.C.E., the Greek army—ruled by King Antiochus—lorded over the holy land that once belonged to the Jews. Prior to the Maccabees taking back this land, the King created laws that made studying a majority of the mitzvot (commandments) and all of the Torah punishable by death. Due to these laws, and because no Jew worth his/her weight in shekels would survive without the great words of the Torah to study, they had to find ways to study in covert fashion. This is where the dreidel comes in.
Hide The Torah, Spin The Dreidel
When the youngest members of the tribe would gather in groups to learn and study the Torah with the elders, they had to be very careful because the king's army would regularly patrol the outlying areas where the Jews resided, mostly the outer forest areas. Should the elders or children hear the approaching army while studying the Torah, they would quickly dispatch their books and pull out a dreidel from a pocket or satchel. This would give the soldiers the impression that the group of kids were simply being supervised while playing a spinning top game we call "spinning the dreidel." The dreidel top, and the game we recognize today, is a tribute to these remarkable efforts of our Jewish ancestors to honor the teaching of the Jewish children, as well as themselves, with the words found in the Torah.
10 Years of Hanukkah Dates (2012 Through 2021)
STARTS (at sundown)
Where Did The Jewish-Roman War Take Place (165 B.C.E.)
Following the Jewish-Roman Wars, the region was renamed Syria Palaestina, better known as The West bank today.
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