What do we get excited about and why?

Hanukkah as a whole is a special holiday. It is not one of the holidays that G-d commanded us to observe in the Torah.

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Phil Chernofsky,

Lighting Chanukah candles (illustration)
Lighting Chanukah candles (illustration)
Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Hanukkah as a whole is a special holiday. It is not one of the holidays that G-d commanded us to observe in the Torah.

It is a holiday that we, the Jewish People - decreed on ourselves, and we observe it and celebrate it with an extra enthusiasm that is felt by most of us. As complex as the Hanukkah story really is, the basic outline captures us in its thrall - we look forward to Hanukkah with an almost unique excitement.

This excitement is given as the reason that in the Ashkenazi world, the most common practice is that everyone lights his (or her) own hanukiya.

The excitement explains why many people use more oil than would be necessary to satisfy the requirement. Everyone gets excited - men, women, and (especially) children.

Presents and/or Hanukkah Gelt doesn't hurt. In addition to the "regular" excite- ment, we should focus on the last three days of Hanukkah (this year - it changes from year to year).

Friday, the 6th day of Hanukkah, is Rosh Chodesh. Hey, Rosh Chodesh! Isn't that something the Greeks focused on when they were trying to separate us from our Torah and religion? Yes, it was. And here we are marking and in some ways celebrating Rosh Chodesh every single month. And where are the Greeks? (Yes, there are almost 11 million people living in Greece - but those are not the Greeks we are talking about.

"Our Greeks" are GONE. We are here! And we still have Rosh Chodesh. And the next day is Shabbat. This year, the 7th day of Hanukkah. Hey, Shabbat - wasn't that another serious target of Greek oppression of the Jewish People? Yes, it was. And guess what? We honor and enjoy Shabbat every single week. That's a lot of Shabbatot since the Hanukkah miracles that allowed us to keep and cherish Shabbat the way we should. And we are still doing Shabbat. The Greeks? Gone.

And then comes Sunday, the last day of Hanukkah. The 8th day of Hanukkah. We call it ZOT Hanukkah. And part of what we mean when we identify the 8th day as "This is Hanukkah" is the association with Brit Mila. Another major target of the Greeks. Thank G-d, they failed., And we have been circumcising our sons ever since Avraham Avinu was commanded to do it.

Been to a Brit lately? Next one you go to, think Hanukkah. That's all part of the victory of the Chashmona'im over the Greeks. And it's not just about doing these and other mitzvot. And learning Torah. It's about being able to live our Torah lives in public. To shout about our Heritage and Traditions. That's why Pirsumei Nisa is essential.



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