When one thinks of Hanukkah, what generally comes to mind, especially if you’re a child, is the lighting of many candles, gifts, fun games, sizzling latkes (grated potato pancakes) and mounds of big, sugarcoated, jelly, chocolate, filled doughnuts or sufganiyot. Not a bad beginning (except for the waistline), but these are merely the trimmings. Yeshua celebrated this “Feast of Dedication,” as it is also called (John 10:22). There is a profoundly rich spiritual core to the festival of Hanukkah; the fun elements, however, help imprint the spiritual truths in the minds of the young and can certainly also be enjoyed by the not so young!
What is it- Hanukkah or Chanukah?
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. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.
Tomorrow, in part two of "How to Celebrate Hanukkah", we'll talk about the Hanukkah Menorah.