´¯`•. December 17, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Day One: Festival of Light

By Brian Reed  December 18, 2008  (Link)

First, what is Chanukah? The word literally means “dedication.” It celebrates the Jewish victory over the Greeks. Under the rule of the wicked king Antiochus, the Greeks sought to uproot the Torah way of life and even went so far as to have the Temple defiled by having idols erected on the holy site. A priest named Mattityahu, outraged by what was happening, gathered his sons together to have them fight the Greeks and to reclaim the Holy Temple. No matter how many troops Antiochus sent (at one point it was up to 40,000), he could not overpower the Maccabees. The Maccabees went to Jerusalem to reclaim the holy site and built a new altar. z226776266Upon lighting a newly built menorah (the original was stolen by the Syrians), the Maccabees discovered that the oil supply was defiled. They managed to find on vessel that was not defiled bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. However, it would only be enough oil to light the menorah for one day and it would be eight days before a new batch could be made. Miraculously, Ha’Shem allowed the oil to burn for eight days and eight nights. We memorialize this event by lighting the Chanukah menorah for eight days.

Before we get to the particulars, let’s discuss the significance of Chanukah. Chanukah symbolizes the power of light and its ability to dispel darkness from the world. As a new flame is kindled each night, the light grows stronger representing our spreading of light to others in the world around us which in turn causes a brighter light to shine. The basic idea is dispelling darkness with the power of light.

A similar theme is found in the Gospel of John when he says, “In Him [Yeshua] was life, and the life was the light of the sons of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5). John goes on to say that “the true Light which gives light to all mankind was coming to the world” (John 1:9). Genesis Rabbah chapter 1, says the following: Rabbi Abba said, ‘And light dwells with Him’ (Daniel 2:22)–this is King Messiah, as it says: ‘Rise, shine, for your Light has come’ (Isaiah 60:1).

Just as the Chanukah menorah has a servant candle that in turn lights the individual candles, so too, Messiah is the servant spoken of in Isaiah 53 (this interpretation is seen in the rabbinic writings) who brings the light of Hashem into the world just as John said that this life was the light of the sons of men. When our souls are kindled by the light of the Messiah, our light grows and shines before men as the Master said it should.

Here is Shalom Sesame‘s two takes on Chanukkah:


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