Eight fascinating facts about Chanukah

  • ChabadMenorah5thAve
In the 2nd century BCE, the brave Maccabees recaptured the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks. The first thing they did was light the golden menorah. The found only one jar of oil, but it burned miraculously for eight days.
by AISH.COM | Dec 08, 2016

Today we light a menorah for eight days to recall this miracle, and to be inspired by its message.

  1. The war of the Maccabees was the world’s first ideological war, fought by a small band of pious Talmudic scholars who engaged in cunning stealth warfare. (In Israel you can visit the caves they hid in).
  2. Around 17,5 million oily doughnuts (sufganiyot) are eaten in Israel during Chanukah, commemorating the miracle of oil. (Not a good time to start a diet!)
  3. The word Chanukah means dedication. That’s what it takes to launch a war against a superpower and light a single flask of oil that can’t possibly last long enough. With enough dedication and commitment G-d creates miracles.
  4. Spinning the dreidel was originally done by students illegally studying Torah. When Greek soldiers would make a surprise raid, the students would whip out a dreidel, pretending to play a gambling game.
  5. Chanukah is celebrated eight days even though the miracle of oil was really only seven (the first day’s light shouldn’t count - it’s natural) to teach us that everything in the natural world is really a miracle caused by G-d. Nothing happens without Him willing it.
  6. Throughout Chanukah, each menorah burns through 44 candles, adding one candle each night, plus the Shamash - the extra helper candle. That’s a lot of light to dispel the darkness.
  7. The menorah in the Holy Temple was gold. The Maccabees lit one made out of wood. Your menorah can be made out of any material, any size. You can see a solid gold replica of the menorah right outside Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem. It cost three million dollars.
  8. Chanukah is not the Jewish Christmas. There is no significance to giving gifts during the holiday. But there is a tradition to give gelt (money) to provide kids with an incentive to learn Torah (Chanukah also comes from the Hebrew word “hinuch”, education.


With kind permission of Aish Hatorah


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