Hanukkah -The Festival of Lights

 For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

Hanukkah or Chanukah- either or both are correct- is the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 - celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality. More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d. When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity. To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. …

Ari Abramowitz debates Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz

We recently receive the following email from our friend Jeremy Gimpel from TheLandofIsrael.com about a debate Ari had with Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz on whether the Settlements are good for Israel:

A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published his [Prof. Dershowitz] plan to reignite the peace process which called for a settlement freeze and further surrender of large parts of the Land of Israel. …


The Torah is known by many descriptors: G-d’s Law; teaching; instruction; commandments, etc. But did you ever stop to think that the Torah is not just how we are to live with each other but how we are to live with G-d as His beloved spouse? The Torah is aptly likened to a marriage contract between G-d and his “wife,” the people of Israel—a sort of ketubah. Although it does not fit that metaphor perfectly (a marriage ketubah is the contract which primarily secures the rights of the bride, not the rights of the husband), it’s a similar concept. Within marriage, a wife should want to please her husband by whatever she does for him according to his wishes, likes, dislikes and preferences as she comes to know him in the course of their marriage. When she learns what he loves, what love means to him and how he receives or feels loved, then she learns his particular “love language.” So when we think of the spousal character of the relationship between G-d and us, we could think of the Torah as His “Love Language.”


Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year—the day on which we are closest to God. It is the Day of Atonement—"For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God" (Leviticus 16:30).

In Biblical times, when the Temple was standing, Yom Kippur was the one day of the year when the Cohen Gadol, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies and performed the atonement ritual on behalf of the entire community before the Ark of The Covenant. The High Priest wore white robes on Yom Kippur—today as both an act of remembrance of the Temple services, and to symbolize the purity that represents God’s cleansing, we wear white also. We also refrain from wearing leather and excessive outer adornment such as jewelry and other fine things to symbolize that neither wealth nor poverty divide us, but we are all equal before the eyes of God. …


The festival of Rosh HaShanah, literally the ‘Head of the Year,’ marks the start of the Hebrew calendar year. This year it falls on 16th September, and commences the year 5773. It is the first celebration of the Fall Festival cycle that we refer to as the High Holidays, which includes Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The fall holiday cycle ends with the final festival of Sukkot. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the Day of Remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. “Speak to the people of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of complete rest, a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts.”

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