Chapter: 11 – Chanukah

01. The Enduring Holiday of Ĥanuka

The Talmud describes the story of Ĥanuka, which occurred during the Second Temple era, in a brief passage: When the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein. When the Hasmoneans prevailed and defeated them, they searched and … Continue reading

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02. The Greek Empire

Over the course of hundreds of years, an advanced culture developed in Greece and accomplished a great deal in the realms of science, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, military strategy, and politics. Its power increased gradually. In defeating his adversaries, King … Continue reading

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03. Evil Decrees and Rebellion

In the year 3591 from creation (169 BCE), around 160 years after the Greeks conquered Eretz Yisrael, Antiochus IV Epiphanes began oppressing the Jews. Under his rule, the Greeks plundered the holy vessels of the Temple, breached the walls of … Continue reading

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04. Crises in the Hasmonean Dynasty

After the war against the Greeks ended in a military and political victory, the cultural struggle returned to the fore. We still needed to defend ourselves against the torrent of Hellenism that had already engulfed all of the surrounding cultures. … Continue reading

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05. Lasting Spiritual Accomplishments

Despite all their shortcomings, the victories that the Hasmoneans achieved had great value. The political independence that they won, though limited, contributed to the prosperity of the Jewish population in Eretz Yisrael in every way. Previously, around forty percent of … Continue reading

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06. The Oral Torah: The Light That Illuminates the Darkness

It is no coincidence that the holiday of Ĥanuka falls out at a time of year when nights are longest and when the cold of winter spreads throughout the land. Moreover, since Ĥanuka flanks the new moon of Rosh Ĥodesh, … Continue reading

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07. Adding a New Candle on Each Day of Ĥanuka

Everything in the world is fleeting and ultimately perishable. This is true of ideas and memories as well; they lose their strength and vitality over time. However, when it comes to lighting the Ĥanuka candles, we discover that faith in … Continue reading

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08. Al Ha-nisim, Hallel, and Torah Reading

The Sages instituted the holiday of Ĥanuka in order to thank and praise God for delivering Israel. For this purpose, they formulated the Al Ha-nisim prayer, which we insert in the berakha of thanksgiving in the Amida. We also recite … Continue reading

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09. The Prohibitions against Fasting, Delivering Eulogies, and Visiting Cemeteries

The holiday of Ĥanuka is a time of joy, praise, and thanksgiving. Therefore, one may not fast or eulogize on Ĥanuka, even on the yahrtzeit of a parent – when many people customarily fast – that coincides with Ĥanuka. Similarly, … Continue reading

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10. Festive Meals on Ĥanuka

Ĥanuka was instituted as a holiday of praise and thanksgiving. Nonetheless, unlike Purim, there is no obligatory mitzva to partake in a festive meal. On Purim, we commemorate our enemies’ attempt to destroy our bodies by rejoicing physically, by eating … Continue reading

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11. The Prohibition on Women Doing Work

Jewish women have preserved a special custom to refrain from working while the Ĥanuka candles are burning. Some women do not work the entire holiday, especially on the first and eighth days. In practice, though, the custom is to avoid … Continue reading

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