Tradition Today: The lights of Hannuka

15.12.2012                      02.Tewet. 5773                      Channuka 7; Mikez

Judentum:

Tradition Today: The lights of Hannuka

Why do we kindle lights on Hanukka? A simple question, almost as simple as the one asked in the Talmud: What is Hanukka? (Shabbat 21b). Surely the sages knew what Hanukka was and how to observe it. Yet somehow they wanted a better answer than was commonly known.

The Books of Maccabees provide the answers concerning Hanukka itself and the connection to lights. In both I and II Maccabees, we are told that when the figures for whom the books are named rededicated the Temple, they lit lights and kindled the lamps of the menorah, a central feature of the sanctuary, celebrating for eight days. So light and fire were always a part of the rededication ceremony, which was then celebrated year after year. The official prayer of Hanukka, “Al Hanissim” (For the Miracles), also mentions that fact: “Then Your children came into Your shrine, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your sanctuary and kindled lights in Your sacred courts.”….