Holiday of Redemption and Miracles – 19th of Kislev and Hanukah

  • Hanukah is a holiday of National Jewish Pride.
  • Jews are praying each day for the coming of the Messiah to rebuild the holy temple in Jerusalem.
  • Hassidism and Kabballa have added to Judaism a new redemption, the redemption of the eight day.

The whole Jewish world is preparing to celebrate the Holiday of Hanukah that arrives this year on December 23 and is celebrated for eight days. About the same time comes Christmas which until January 1 is eight days also called the holiday season.

Like all Jewish holidays there are laws which govern over its observance. Hanukah is not a holiday which is mentioned in the Torah the five books of Moses but was established later in the times of the second temple at about 167 BCE. The first temple in Jerusalem was built by King Solomon after his son David had completed the conquest of the Biblical land of Israel. Joshua the successor to Moses led the children of Israel into the land to begin its conquest. The conquest took over 400 years a period called Judges in the Bible. Finally after the completion of the conquest, according to the instructions of Moses in the Bible was built by King Solomon the holy temple which stood for over four hundred years. The nation of Israel had sovereignty during this whole period until it was conquered by Babylon and the first temple was destroyed. The holiday of Hanukah was established during the period of the second temple which was built after seventy years of exile of the Jewish people in Babylon, when they were able to return to their land under the leadership of Ezra and rebuild the temple. Ezra did not accomplish this task alone but had the help of Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire in 559 BCE. The nation of Israel during this period was not a sovereign state like it was during the time of the first temple.

Hanukah Menorah of eight candles.

The holiday of Hanukah is the celebration of the victory of the Jews to regain control of their holy temple after it had been conquered by the Greeks.  The Greeks entered the temple and desecrated the holy oils which were used for lighting the Candelabra in the temple by the high priest. They also persecuted the Jewish people restricting them from practicing their religion.  A group of valiant Jews under the leadership of Judah the Maccabee succeeded to regain control of the temple and to begin the purification process of the oils and vessels used in the temple which took eight days. There is also a traditional story of the miracle of Hanukah when began the rededication of the lighting of the Holy Candelabra with one can of oil that had not been contaminated which should have burnt only for one day but lasted eight days the whole period of rededication.  Hanukah became a National Jewish holiday for all generations. Jewish families light a Menorah candelabra in the window which has in it eight lights corresponding to the miracle and dedication of the temple for eight days. It represents the struggle of the Jewish nation for survival throughout all generations carrying with them the light of the Torah.

The High Priest lights the Candelabra in the holy temple.

Chassidism Orthodox Messianic Judaism which was founded by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov  in the 18th century has added spiritual light to the meaning of the holiday of Hanukah. According to Kabballah esoteric Judaism the eight lights of the Menorah of Hanukah correspond to the light of the Messiah which is a light of freedom.  Freedom is a universal light represented by the number eight, in contrast to the National light of spirituality represented by the number seven, the seven days of the week, the Sabbath. Chassidism added to Hanukah messianic meaning. While traditionally in Judaism the coming of the Messiah is related to National redemption, through the Kabballah gave it also universal meaning universal redemption. It has always been the custom to light the Menorah of Hanukah in the windows of Jewish homes to publicize the miracle of lights, but Hassidism has expanded on its meaning and made Chanukah connection to the Messiah for all of mankind. Leading the Chassidic movement are the representative of Chabad who publicize the miracle of Hanukah through lighting enormous Menorahs in public places throughout the world.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi the founder of Chabad Chassidism who was released from prison on the 19th day of Kislev close to Hanukah. Chabad Chassidism celebrates this day as the holiday of redemption and the New Year day of Chassidism.

In addition to Hanukah which falls on the 25th day of the month Chabad Chassidism celebrates the Holiday of Redemption on the 19th day of Kislev in this year December 17,  the founder of Chabad Chassidism Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was released from prison in Russia. He was imprisoned for spreading the light of the Kabballa to the masses which was until his time forbidden. From the time of Rabbi Zalman and the 19th of Kislev in 1744 until today there have been seven generations of spiritual leaders of Chabad, the last and final leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson also called the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated the lighting of enormous Menorahs throughout the world in public places and declared for all generations after him that the world is ready and in the middle of the Messianic era. The holiday of the 19th day of Kislev is called by Lubavitch as the New Year day of Hassidism.

Hassidism and Kabballa is emphasizing the universal light of spirituality, the light of the eighth day , as well as the traditional National light of Judaism the seventh day the Sabbath. The eight day is in a spiritual realm above nature, a spiritual revelation known only by prophets. Prophets have come into the world to reveal the light of the eight day which has become part of the traditions and customs of religion. Religion unites the light of the eighth day which is above nature with the light of the seventh day in natural life family, children, good deeds and happiness.

We are entering the holiday season and this should bring to the world a spiritual elevation which should culminate in World Unity and Peace and a renewal of the revelation of the Messiah.

Lubavitch Chassidism participate in a public candle lighting on Hanukah for all of mankind.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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