Chapter: Laws and Customs of Chanukah

1 – The Holiday of Chanukah is Eternal

During the Second Temple era, “The Greeks entered the sanctuary and defiled all the oil that was there. When the Hasmonean dynasty gained power and defeated them, they searched for pure oil and found only one flask that was marked … Continue reading

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2 – The Greek Empire

Over the course of hundreds of years, the Greeks developed a culture that achieved great advancements in science, philosophy, literature, art, architecture, military strategy, and politics. And its strength grew ever greater. After defeating his adversaries, Philippos, King of Macedonia, … Continue reading

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3 – 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 despoiled the holy vessels of the Temple, breached the walls of … Continue reading

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4 – Trouble 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 tremendous sea of Hellenism that engulfed all of the surrounding cultures. Greek … Continue reading

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5 – Lasting Spiritual Accomplishments

Despite all the shortcomings, the Hasmonean victories had great value. The political independence that they won, albeit limited, contributed to the prosperity of the Jewish population in Eretz Yisrael in every way. Previously, around forty percent of Judea’s produce was … Continue reading

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6 – The Oral Law – The Light that Illuminates the Darkness

It is no coincidence that the holiday of Chanukah falls out at a time of the year when the nights are longest and the cold of winter permeates the land. Moreover, the moon barely shines, since Chanukah coincides with the … Continue reading

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7 – A New Candle Every Day, Culminating with Eight

Everything in the world is fleeting and eventually withers away. This is true of ideas and memories as well; they lose their strength and vitality over time. But behold, when it comes to lighting the Chanukah candles, we discover that … Continue reading

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1 – The Mitzvah to Light Chanukah Candles

Our Sages instituted [a mitzvah] to light candles all eight days of Chanukah, when the Jewish people celebrated and gave thanks to God for helping them defeat the Greeks, liberate Jerusalem, and purify the Holy Temple.  In addition, the oil … Continue reading

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2 – The Number of Candles and the Custom of Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin

The mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles is a very beloved one.  In general, there are two levels of mitzvah performance: carrying out the basic obligation and mehadrin, fulfilling the mitzvah more elaborately.  When it comes to Chanukah candles, however, there … Continue reading

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3 – The Sefardic Custom

There are different customs regarding the actual fulfillment of mehadrin min ha’mehadrin.  According to Sefardic tradition, the main hiddur (adornment) is to light as many candles as corresponds to the day [of Chanukah that one is currently celebrating].  Even if … Continue reading

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