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Monday, Kislev 25, 5782 / November 29, 2021


HAPPY CHANUKAH. Today is the first day of Chanukah - Festival of lights. Shabbat and all Jewish holidays begin from the night. Thus, Chanukah began Sunday night.


The first night of Chanukah one candle is lit. An additional candle is added every night. The first night of Chanukah, three blessings are recited before kindling. All other nights, two blessings (1 & 2) are recited.


#1.  Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-had-lik Ner [Shel] Cha-nu-kah.


#2.  Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nei E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam She-a-sa Ni-sim La-avo-tei-nu Ba-ya-mim Ha-heim Biz'man Ha-zeh.


#3.  Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nei E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam She-heche-ya-nu Ve-ki-yi-ma-nu Ve-higi-a-nu Laz-man Ha-zeh.


The candles should be lit near a door or window in order to publicize the miracle. In addition to lighting the Chanukah menorah at home, it is also lit in the synagogue and in public places to advertise the miracle of Chanukah to as many people as possible.


Q.  Why is the lighting of the menorah required to be in a manner which will publicize the miracle? 


A.  The miracle of the Chanukah lights, in which a small jar of oil with the seal of the High Priest, which contained barely enough oil for only one day, lasted eight days, took place inside the Holy Temple.  Since only the Kohanim (priests) were able to enter the Temple, the miracle was not visible to the public, nor did it affect everyone.  Thus, our rabbis decreed that we perform the lighting of the menorah in a way that the miracle is publicized to everyone.


Q.   Why did the miracle have to be for exactly eight days, not more or less?


A.  According to Jewish law, one becomes "Tamei" - "spiritually impure," when coming into contact with a dead body.  The person must then wait seven days, and only on the eighth day do they become "Tahor" - "spiritually clean."


Due to the battles which the Maccabees fought, they came into contact with dead bodies and were considered unclean. Any oil which they would have produced during these seven days would not have been considered fit for the Holy Temple.  Therefore, only on the eighth day were they able to process new oil fit for the Holy Temple.  This is why they needed a miracle for the original oil to last eight days.


Another reason given is that the best quality oil produced in Israel was in the territory of the tribe of Asher, which was a four day journey from Jerusalem.  Thus, to bring fresh oil they required four days to go and four days to return.