Chanukah is Coming
With Chanukah beginning this coming Thursday night, I am sharing some information to get us in gear for the holiday. The name Chanukah comes from the word Chanoch, which means to dedicate, as the holiday celebrates the rededication of the second Temple. Also, the Hebrew word Chanukah can be divided into two, Chanu-kh; which means rested on the twenty-fifth day, of the month of Kislev, the day of victory for the Macabees.
The Syrian-Greeks imposed their culture upon Israel and attempted to destroy its allegiance to G-d. They sought to ban Torah observance and they desecrated the Temple. The Chashmonaim led the forces of Israel in a war that allowed Israel to maintain its presence and ideals in Jerusalem. The Talmud states, “When the Greeks entered the Temple they defiled all of the oils therein; when the Chashmonean Kingdom triumphed and defeated the Greeks the Kohanim searched and found only one flask of oil stamped with the seal of the Kohen Gadol. There was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. A miracle occurred and the oil lasted for eight days. The following year these days were fixed and established as a festival of praise and thanks.” The essence of the holiday is to light the candles, recite the Hallel and express our gratitude to the Almighty.
How do we light?
Each night of Chanukah we light a Menorah (candelabra) which is called Chanukiyah. This is a special Menorah with eight places to light and a ninth for the additional light which is called Shamash (helper). If there is a window facing the street, it is placed there for all to see. If that is not an option, it is placed in a room that has traffic i.e. the living or dining room.
After the location is determined, the candles or oil are put in a specific part of the Chanukiyah. On the first night two candles are set up – one representing the first night and another, the shamash. The candle for the first night is placed in the holder furthest to the right. The right means the right side of the person lighting, not how it is viewed in the window by passers-by.
First the shamash, the candle used to do the lighting, is lit. While facing the Chanukiyah the blessings are recited, followed by the kindling. On the first night there are three blessings. The third blessing, shehecheyanu is only recited the first night.
On the second night we add another light. That means we have two candles to start in the Chanukiyah, in the two spots that are furthest to the right. After the two blessings are recited, the new addition is lit first (the one to the left of the first). Each night the motion of kindling goes from left candle moving to the right.
Wishing you a most joyous Holiday of Light!