HANUKKAH 2020

HANUKKAH 2020

What Does Chanukah Actually Mean? Hannukah, Chanukah, Janucá - The Festival of Lights starts with so many ways to spell it, but what does it even mean? On a basic level, the word chanukah means “inauguration.” Indeed, Chanukah celebrates the inauguration of a newly built altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Maccabees defeated the Greek interlopers and drove them from Judea, they found that much of the Temple, including the altar, had been defiled and used for idolatry. The Maccabees buried the stones of the altar and built a new one. Thus, Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple and the altar. We find divergent traditions in the Talmud regarding how many candles to light each night of Chanukah. According to Beit Shammai ( the school of thought of Judaism founded by Shammai, a Jewish scholar of the 1st century, BCE.), we start the first night with eight candles and decrease by one candle each night thereafter. According to Beit Hillel (a school of Jewish law and thought founded by the famed Hillel the Elder which thrived in 1st century B.C. Jerusalem. Although the schools fought bitterly over matters of Jewish law, they got along well), we start the first night with one candle, and each night we add a candle. The accepted halachah ( the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the Written and Oral Torah) follows the teachings of Beit Hillel . Excerpts from “What Does Chanukah Actually Mean?” By Yehuda Shurpin.

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