The festival of lights is soon upon us- starting Saturday evening December 24th to Sunday January 1st. Some of us celebrate the Maccabean revolt and rededication, some of do not. If you are not aware of the history of Hanukah here is a little synopsis taken from Chabad.org and the actual story of Hanukah taken from 1 and 2 Maccabes:
“In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in G‑d. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, 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 (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted 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.”
- This is not a commanded festival
- There is dispute about the “miracle of oil” which was added around 600 years later in the Talmud.
Here is an excerpt from 1 and 2 Maccabees describing the historical events that led to re-dedication of the temple after the Greeks had defiled it:
1 Maccabees 4:52-59 reads:
Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of the burn offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals… So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings… Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev.
2 Maccabees 10:5-9
It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Kislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing….therefore, carrying ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.
I have been in prayerful reflection about whether or not to celebrate according to mans traditions of lighting a menorah/ chanakiah. I believe that there is nothing wrong with traditions, they are the “glue” that keeps families and those with similar beliefs and values together. We will light a candle each day and reflect on our re-dedicate topic.
My husband and I have decided to put together our own 8 day celebration and re-dedication to Yahweh, each other and those we serve this year. I also included a few of my favorite recipes at the end of the booklet.
You can download it here!