Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday night is the first night of Chanukah. It goes for 8 nights.

Practice: People light an eight candled menorah at a low point either on the ground or on a low table. The point is to have the light in a low place to represent how low the light can reach (even to the lowest places). The menorah is placed either right outside the house or near a window -somewhere where passersby can see the proclamation. What's being proclaimed?

BACKGROUND: During the period of the second Beit HaMikdash, the Greek kings (descendents of Yaffet) ussued harsh decrees against Israel.  Religious practices were outlawed, even Torah study was outlawed. Their outlook was very different than the Jews for example: to the Greeks, the human body was a most perfect creation and so to circumcize it was seen as wrong. The Greeks entered the Sanctuary and ravaged it , defiling all that was ritually pure.

One family of Cohain, the Hashmonaim, (Matisyahu and his 5 sons) decided to fight against the Greeks. This was interesting because the Cohain are not suppose to be leaders, but rather priests. Nevertheless as they say "where there is no man.. be a man"  So they took on the role of leader and lead the Jewish people into battle against the Greeks.  First one brother, then when he died, another brother, then another. Total all 5 brothers fought valiantly to the end.

An added struggle was that there were many Jews who were only to happy to give up Torah, give up mitzvot, everything in exchange for being 'just like their non-Jewish neighbors'. These were the Hellenist Jews. Unfortunately, the Cohain family and their people had to do battle with both the Greeks and the Hellenist Jews.

AFterwards they went into the Holy Temple and searched around to light the candles of the menorah. They found only a small flask of oil -seemingly too small to last a day, but they tried it anyway. To their suprise, the candle stayed lit for 8 days. A miracle happened here!

No comments: