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Jewish Hanukkah

December 21, 2016

“I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.'” (Isaiah 49:9)

On Saturday night, the eight-day “Festival of Dedication,” HANUKKAH begins.

This wonderful holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple by the Hasmoneans, also known as the Maccabee family, and the miraculous single-day supply of oil lasting a full eight days in the process of that re-dedication.

The first Hanukkah on the 25th of Kislev in 164 BC heralded freedom from Greek rule, the purification of Jerusalem from pagan influence, and the restoration of God’s House—the Temple in Jerusalem.

With the Temple recaptured from the Greeks and newly restored, the family of Judah Maccabee reestablished the seven-day autumn festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the extra day of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah, which concludes the annual cycle of Parashiot).

The Greek ruler Antiochus IV had forbidden its observance earlier in the year, so when the Temple was recaptured in December, they celebrated this eight-day festival.

And so the keeping of Torah once again freely commenced. Hanukkah, therefore, represents the renewed ability to study the Torah, which is compared to light.

Israelis celebrate the Torah on the holiday of Simchat Torah.

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