Chanukah is a joyous holiday commemorating the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes and his Syrian army. In 165 b.c., Judea was ruled by Antiochus, who oppressed the Hebrew culture and religion. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jewish people were able to overthrow their Syrian oppressors.
The first point of order was to cleanse their desecrated temple and reinstitute temple worship. While cleaning it, one sanctified jar of oil used to light the Eternal Flame in the temple, was found with the priestly seal still upon it, meaning it was not contaminated. There was just enough oil in it to last one night. Miraculously, this little cruse of oil burned eight nights, the length of time it took to prepare new kosher oil!
Now, on the 25th day of Kislev, they were ready to rededicate their temple to God. The following year it was instituted that every anniversary should be observed with the lighting of a Chanukah menorah to remember this time of great miracle.
So, at this time of year a special candelabrum, called a “chanukiah” is used to light one more candle each night, until eight candles are all aglow. A ninth candle, called the “shamash” (means servant) candle is slightly raised from the rest, and is used to light all the others.
This miracle of religious freedom is also celebrated by the family gathering together not only to light the chanukiah, but to sing festive songs, play dreidel (a game involving a top with Hebrew letters on it stating: a great miracle happened there), eat foods fried in oil (to remember the miracle of the oil) and to exchange gifts.
We invite you to come celebrate the growing, glowing miracle with us as we light one more candle each night. While we celebrate, we also recognize a bigger picture the light of Chanukah represents.
Y’shua, Jesus, celebrated The Feast of Dedication (Chanukah means dedication). We read of this in the New Covenant Book of Yohanan (John) 10:22-23, which states: “At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Yerushalim (Jerusalem); it was winter, and Y’shua, (Jesus) was walking in the temple in the portico of Shlomo (Solomon)” (where celebrations would have taken place). At this time, our people had already been celebrating this occasion for almost 200 years. Tradition!
Yet, Y’shua, Jesus, also stepped into this memorial in a unique way and brought light as represented in the Shamash (servant) candle. Prophetically our prophet, Y’shayah (Isaiah) promised us a great light (chapter 9 verse 2: “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light”) and foretold its coming in chapter 60:1, stating: “Arise, shine; for your light has come. And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Y’shua, Jesus, claimed to be that light in Yohanan (John) 8:12, saying: “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness.”
Just as the Shamash candle, traditionally pure and white, stoops down to bring the light to the other candles, so Y’shua, Jesus, holy and pure, stooped down from Heaven to bring the Eternal Light into each heart that will believe and accept Him.
Join with us as we light each candle in learning the true meaning of each day as their message points to an aspect of The True and Divine Light, come into the world that we might have the Light of Life.
(each candle is lit at sundown, the beginning of each day, according to the Jewish teaching based upon the creation according to Genesis (B’reshith) in the Hebrew Bible (“…and the evening and the morning were the first day…”)
The following blessing is recited when the Menorah is lit:
Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitsvotav, v’tsivanu, l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah. (translation: We praise You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by Your Mitzvot and enjoined us to kindle the Chanukah lights.)
Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech haoalm, she-asa nisim la-a-vo-tenu, ba-ya-mim ha-hem bazman haze. (translation: We praise You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.)
Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech haolam, she-he-che-yanu v’ki-y’manu, v’higianu lazman haze. (translation: We praise You, O Lord our god, King of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.) (This last verse recited only on the first night.)
Day 1: Light or Life: Depending on which rabbi you are listening to, this day stands for light or life. Either speaks of Y’shua.
Light causes us to reflect" upon the words of Melech (King) David, who stated in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Our prophet, Y’shayah (Isaiah), stated: “Come house of Ya’acov (Jacob), and let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
As we already mentioned Y’shua, Jesus, claimed to be that light in Yohanan (John) 8:12, but also earlier in his book, Yohanan declared: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (chapter 1, verses 4-5) Y’shua, Jesus, dispels all darkness and brings us Life, the alternative meaning to this day.
Life is precious and should be appreciated as the gift from God that it is. God’s Son, Y’shua, Jesus, also gave us life and gives it more abundantly, according to Yohanan (chapter 10, the end of verse 10). Furthermore, Y’shua, Jesus, declared in Yohanan 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me, shall never die.” Y’shua, Jesus, came that we might have light and life; represented well by the Shamash (servant) candle bringing light and life to the other candles.