Sunday, December 5, 2010
ORIGINS OF HANUKKAH
Unlike Christianity, Judaism is less influenced by the ancient religions as it is, in its own right an ancient religion. I will say, however, that in many of the Jewish homes there are little adopted customs which have influenced the purity of the ancient traditions. I blame that on the commercialism of our society from which has poisoned the purity of the religion. Unfortunately In today's society it is the all mighty coin that energizes our homes, communities, countries and the world in many cases. A great example of this is the infamous "Hanukkah Bush" , the Jewish version of the Christmas Tree. Since in both Christianity and Judaism, Lights in the month of December are of religious significance it makes it convenient for both the commercial aspect and the blending in with the majority, at least here in North America. This does not happen in homes of Orthodox Jews.
Do not allow the retail stores and the greeting card companies to influence the direction of your faith and keep it a personal experience in its purest form.
From the Hebrew word for "dedication" or "consecration", Hanukkah marks the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of the King of Syria and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud ( a book containing Jewish Law, customs and history, ethics and Philosophy of Judaism), at the re-dedication following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Monarchy, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.
The Menorah in Hanukkah plays a major role in celebrating Hanukkah. The Menorah Symbolizes the above miracle. Each night for eight nights a candle is lie, one at a time. With each night, additional candles are light with the center candle which is called a Shamash which in Hebrew means "Servant or helper". The Shamash is always lit first and is used to light the other candles as the nights progress.
Hanukkah Gelt and the Dreidel:
The tradition of giving gelt (money in Yiddish or German), or Hanukkah gelt coins, to children began in Europe in the Middle Ages. Occasionally the gelt is used to create a pot for a game of dreidel. The dreidel is a spinning top with a different letter on each of its four sides. The letters are the first initials of the words in the phrase nes gadol haya sham, meaning "a great miracle happened there." Children and parents play the game until someone wins all of the gelt. In modern Israel the letters of the dreidel were changed to reflect the translation "a great miracle happened here." The dreidel is called Sevivon in Hebrew.
This year Hanukkah began on December 2 and it ends on December 9th. To all our Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah!