Day 12 – 25 Days of Christmas Challenge

Day 12 of this Christmas challenge is also day 3 of Hanukkah this year, and since Christmas and Hanukkah are both very important holidays that always come around the same time of year, I think it is only fitting to give a big shout out to Hanukkah and our Jewish friends as well.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the larger Syrian army. It also celebrates a miracle that happened during this time, where just a day’s supply of oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days. According to I Maccabees, the celebration of Hanukkah was instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 165 bce to celebrate his victory over Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who had invaded Judaea, tried to Hellenize the Jews, and desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Most of us know that Hanukkah lasts for eight nights, and during the holiday, you light the menorah, eat delicious fried latkes and spin the dreidel to win some chocolate. But there is much more to the Jewish holiday than just good food and candles—and it’s not just about getting presents all week long.

If you want to learn more about the Festival of Lights, here are eight interesting things you may not know about Hanukkah.

  1. Hanukkah itself is NOT actually the Jewish holiday. In fact, it’s not even mentioned in the Torah. But because of its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah became a widely celebrated holiday beginning in the late 1800s.
  2. The Menorah itself is actually what is known as Hanukiah. An actual menorah has seven placeholders all at the same height. A Hanukkiah has nine, with one at a different height.
  3. During Hanukkah, Israelis feast on “sufganiyot”—oily jelly donuts—as the traditional holiday dessert. During this time of year, 17.5 million doughnuts are eaten.
  4. Studying the Torah was outlawed in ancient Greece, so the Jewish people played with the dreidel in order to fool the Greeks if they were caught.
  5. Gift-giving isn’t a traditional part of Hanukkah, but kids were given gelt money as an incentive to study the Torah, but because Hanukkah is close to Christmas, and gift giving is a big part of the Christmas tradition, gifts have also become a part of the Hanukkah traditions as well. This also most probably started around the late 1800’s, when celebrating Hanukkah became so widespread.
  6. There are actually 16 different ways to spell Hanukkah. Since Hanukkah is transliterated from Hebrew letters, there are many different ways to spell the name of the holiday. The most common in English are “Hanukkah” or “Chanukah.”
  7. Hanukkah candles are added right to left, but lit left to right so the newest is lit first.
  8. Jimmy Carter was the first president to take official notice of the holiday in 1979, and each president since has recognized Hanukkah with a special menorah-lighting ceremony.

So Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish friends, as well as a Merry Christmas to all our non-Jewish friends. Either way, Happy Holidays. May they be filled with love and good tidings to all.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

One thought on “Day 12 – 25 Days of Christmas Challenge”

  1. Tonight Yidden light the first of the Hanukkah lights. The Gemara of Shabbat teaches the famous dispute between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel concerning lighting the lights of Hanukkah. This famous dispute always puzzled me, what difference does it make whether one begins with lighting 8 candles the first night or only one? What does lighting the lights of Hanukkah have to do with the life and death struggle against Greek cultural domination of the tiny Jewish State?

    The B’hag, a late scholar whose Torah shined the light of Torah during the waning domination of the Gaonim schools. The Reshonim scholarship, this “candle of light” followed the lights of the Gaonim schools. The B’hag holds that the rabbinic mitzvot of both Purim and Hanukkah, their light shines as part of the 613 Commandments Israel received from HaShem and Moshe Rabbenu.

    The Rambam denounced the light which the B’hag directed the generations of Israel. The B’hag links Hanukkah, as does the Talmud to Shabbat. He held that lighting the lights of Shabbat – this mitzva from the Torah – its light shines on par with the Torah mitzvot of Purim and Hanukkah. To comprehend the light shone by the Torah of the B’hag, Yidden must discern the common denominator which the Houses of Hillel and Shammai, your shared foundation by which their Torah communicated the k’vanna of the mitzva of Hannukah as expressed through the rabbinic halachic ritual of lighting the lights of Hannukah throughout the generations.

    The Greek empire conquered the Persian empire, which uprooted the Babylonian empire, who destroyed Jerusalem and expelled Yidden from the lands ruled by the king of Yechuda from the House of David. Greek hostility to the Torah centered not upon the Written Torah but rather the Oral Torah. This latter Torah light expresses itself through a unique logic format by which Yidden, following the Golden Calf, dedicated the souls of their children, to strictly interpret the language of the Written Torah by employing the Oral Torah logic format alone as the light to see and understand the k’vanna and intent of the Written Constitution of the Jewish State.

    The Greek schools of philosophy taught a completely different logic system. The logic of Plato and Aristotle overshadow the ancient Greek contribution of knowledge. Yidden, humiliated from our disgrace of the avoda zarah of the Golden Calf, our forefathers swear a Torah oath, to all generations Yidden sanctify our dedication unto the Torah revelation to interpret the Written Torah through the lights of the Oral Torah alone.

    The lights of Shabbot, the dedication to strive to achieve shalom among family and friends. The lights of reading the Megillah on Purim, the dedication of tohor, opposed by tuma middot unto HaShem. The Book of Ester, the only Book of the T’NaCH which lacks the Name of HaShem. The Name המן and המלך they teach a רמז Gematria of tohor as opposed to tuma middot. The k’vanna of “kingship” (To make a Torah blessing requires the Name and Kingship), as a king stands as the head of a nation so too the dedication of tohor, as opposed to tuma, middot unto HaShem – middot express the faith unto the revelation of the Torah throughout all and every generation. The mussar of the Book of Ester teaches middot, expressed through the contrast between Mordecai and Haman.

    In similar fashion the Gemara of Shabbot, teaches the k’vanna of lighting the lights of Hannukah, expressed through the contrast of opinions expressed by the Houses Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel. What defines the Oral Torah? Logic stands upon the יסוד/foundation of Order. The Order of the Torah logic system in its turn sharply contrasts with the Order of the ancient Greek logic formats which ancient Greek philosophers developed.

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