Hanukkah | purity and light

!חג שמח | Hahg Same’akh | Happy Holiday!

Hanukkiyah, Washington DC
a personal favorite hanukkiyah was this one in Washington DC.

This lengthy post is a message of good wishes to you, and detailed information for me.  Holy days, festivals, celebrations, and tradition are among my most favored topics.  Especially historic ones.  Judaism is rich with all, and strong in history.  Hanukkah is not a ‘major’ holiday, but it commemorates an important event and is a holiday with which we are all familiar.  And it starts tonight!

FOR Jews all over the world, a familiar annual festival, celebrating the re-establishment of their religion in its purest form after a time of alien oppression, is about to begin.

“Hanukkah, celebrates the re-dedication of the Jerusalem Temple, the focal point of Jewish worship, after an uprising against the Hellenised rulers of the eastern Mediterranean. These rulers had been trying to make the Jews follow the practices and culture of the pagan Greeks. The provocations came to a head in the year 167BC, when Emperor Antiochus decreed that an altar to Zeus should be erected in the Temple. He also banned circumcision and ordered the ritual sacrifice of pigs. Two years later, a revolt against the Hellenised dynasty was successful and the victorious Jews decreed that the Temple must be cleansed of impure influences and reconsecrated.”
– The Economist

Hanukkah in detail

In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

English: Mattathias was a Jewish priest whose ...
English: Mattathias was a Jewish priest whose role in the Jewish revolt against the Syrian Greeks is related in the Books of the Maccabees.

Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villagers and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig – both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias’ behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.

Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.  – from  Hanukkah About.com

Maccabees liberation of the Temple, 3622 BCE
Maccabees liberation of the Temple, year 3622 before creation.

On the 25th of Kislev in the year 3622 from creation, the Maccabees liberated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after defeating the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Judaism from the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Temple to the service of G-d. But all the Temple’s oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; when the Jews sought to light the Temple’s menorah (candelabra) [specifically: hanukkiyah, a 9 candle menorah], they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained. In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly to recall and publicize the miracle.
– from The Complete Story of Chanukah: www.chabad.org

The Prayers

There is a prayer for each of the eight nights of the festival, to be said before lighting the candles.  This prayer is recited the first night, and again each subsequent night:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik neir (shel) chanukah.

Praised are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.

– See more

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees:
These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible); they are Jewish apocryphal books instead. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees. – Hanukkah wiki

Read more:

Judaism 101: Chanukkah http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm

Hanukkah – Chanukah 2013 – Menorah, Dreidels, Latkes, Recipes 
http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/

Note:  I am curious, not knowledgeable nor scholarly.  I invite any input or corrections.  If I have offended please let me know so that I may both learn from and apologize to you personally.   On Enlighten Me you will find a place to submit private comments directly to me.

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