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GOOD MORNING! Hanukah is coming soon - the first night is Sunday, December 25th. It's a wonderful family holiday. After we light the candles, we sing Maoz Tzur, eat jelly donuts, tell stories, have quizzes about Hanukah -all in the light of the Hanukah candles. Memories are made up of a collection of precious moments. Hanukah can provide you with many wonderful memories!
Q & A: WHAT IS HANUKAH AND HOW DO WE CELEBRATE IT?
There are two ways which our enemies have historically sought to destroy us. The first is by physical annihilation; the most recent attempt being the Holocaust. The second is through cultural assimilation. Purim is the annual celebration of our physical survival. Hanukah is the annual celebration of our spiritual survival over the many who would have liked to destroy us through cultural assimilation.
In 167 BCE the Syrian-Greek emperor, Antiochus, set out to destroy Judaism by imposing a ban on three mitzvot: The Shabbat, The Sanctifying of the New Month (establishing the first day of the month by testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon) and Brit Mila (entering the Covenant of Abraham through Torah-ordained circumcision). The Shabbat signifies that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and that His Torah is the blueprint of creation, meaning and values. Sanctifying the New Month determines the day of the Jewish holidays. Without it there would be chaos. For example, if Succot is the 15th of Tishrei, the day it occurs depends upon which day is declared the first of Tishrei. Brit Mila is a sign of our special covenant with the Almighty. All three maintain our cultural integrity and were thus threats to the Greek culture.
Matityahu and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees, started a revolt and three years later succeeded in evicting the oppressors. The victory was a miracle - on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today. Having regained control of the Temple in Jerusalem, they wanted to immediately rededicate it. They needed ritually pure olive oil to re-light the Menorah in the Temple. Only a single cruse of oil was found; enough to burn for just one day. However, they needed oil for eight days until new ritually pure olive oil could be produced. A miracle occurred and the oil burned for eight days.
Therefore, we light Hanukah candles (or better yet, lamps with olive oil) for eight days. One the first day, two the second and so forth. The first candle is placed to the far right of the menorah with each additional night's candle being placed to the immediate left. One says three blessings the first night (two blessings each subsequent night) and then lights the candles, starting with the furthermost candle to the left. The menorah should have all candles in a straight line and at the same height. Ashkenazi tradition has each person of the household lighting his own menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah lit per family. The blessings can be found on the back of the Hanukah candle box or in a Siddur, prayer book. The candles may be lit inside the home. It is preferable to light where passersby in the street can see them - to publicize the miracle of Hanukah. In Israel, people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah or little glasses with olive oil and wicks.
The tradition to eat latkes, potato pancakes, is in memory of the miracle of the oil (latkes are fried in oil). In Israel, the tradition is to eat sufganiot, deep-fried jelly donuts. The traditional game of Hanukah uses a dreidel, a four-sided top with the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimmel, Hey, ShinNes Gadol Haya Sham - A Great Miracle Happened There." In Israel, the last letter is a Pay - for "here.") In times of persecution when learning Torah was forbidden, Jews would learn anyway. When the soldiers would investigate, they would pull out the dreidel and pretend that they were gambling. The rules for playing dreidel: Nun -no one wins; Gimmel - spinner takes the pot; Hey - spinner get half the pot; Shin/Pay - spinner matches the pot!
Here's a question to think about: If enough oil was found to burn in the Temple menorah for one day and the oil lasted for eight days, then the miracle was really only for the seven additional days of lighting. Why then do we celebrate Hanukah for eight days and not seven? (answers next week!)
For further information on Hanukah, including animated instructions on how to light the candles, go to: http://www.aish.com/holidays/Chanukah/default.asp
For more on "Hanukah" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother, Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob's daughter, Dina; Dina's brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; God gives Jacob an additional name, "Israel," and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob's 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau's lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly ... the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states that after Jacob took his wives, their handmaids and children across the Jabbok and then sent his possessions across:
"And Jacob remained alone."
Why did he remain alone?
The Sages (Talmud Bavli Chulin 91a) explain that Jacob remained behind to retrieve some small flasks. From here, say the Sages, we see the principle that for the righteous their possessions are more dear to them than their bodies (since Jacob placed himself in danger for his possessions). The reason for this, said the Ari, is that the righteous realize that if the Almighty gave them something, it is important for them to have it. If it were not necessary for their total welfare, the Almighty would not have given it to them. Therefore, they do whatever they can not to lose what they were given.
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz cited the story of a philosopher who wished to be satisfied with the least amount of possessions that were absolutely necessary. After thinking the matter over, he gave up everything he owned and kept only a pump to draw water from wells. Once when he was walking on the road he saw a caravan of people. They stopped near a well and drank directly from it without any pumps or cups. The philosopher said to himself, "Now I see that I don't even need a pump!" He immediately threw away the pump, his only remaining possession. However, from Jacob we learn otherwise. The spirit of Torah is not to have nothing, but to have a deep appreciation for whatever you do have!
PIRKEI AVOT 4:17
"There are three crowns:
the crown of Torah,
the crown of priesthood,
and the crown of kingship;
but the crown of a good name surpasses all of them."
-- Rabbi Shimon
CANDLE LIGHTING - December 16:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:18 Hong Kong 5:24 Honolulu 5:34
J'Burg 6:37 London 3:33 Los Angeles 4:27
Melbourne 8:20 Mexico City 5:42 Miami 5:16
New York 4:12 Singapore 6:44 Toronto 4:24
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
What sunshine is to flowers,
smiles are to humanity.
Mazal Tov on