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Chanukah meaning “dedication” in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and “rededication” of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiyah, a special menorah for Chanukah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts); and special songs and games.
On the first night of Chanukah, Jews all over the world will light the first Chanukah candle, thus, beginning the eight day holiday of Chanukah – The Holiday of Lights. On the second night of Chanukah we light two candles, the third night three and so on. On the eighth and last night of Chanukah, eight candles are lit.
The reason for celebrating the holiday through the lighting of the candles is to commemorate the miracle of the lights in the Holy Temple, when a small amount of oil, barely enough for one day miraculously lasted eight days.
The Jewish soul is compared to a candle, as is written, “The candle of G-d is the soul of man.” Torah and mitzvot are also compared to a candle and light. Thus, the sages established to celebrate both miracles of Chanukah with the lighting of candles. It not only celebrates the miracle of the oil in the Temple, it also commemorates the victory of the war against the Jewish soul (candle) and the victory of Torah and mitzvot.
The Chanukah candles remind us to believe in the power of miracles. Miracles happen all the time, it is only a matter of recognizing them. Some miracles are obvious, while most are hidden, as they are concealed in what we call “nature.”
The spiritual illumination of the Chanukah candles should enlighten us to see, to recognize and be thankful for G-d’s constant miracles which accompany us with every breath, every minute of the day.
Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784