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Chanukkah 5783 – More or Less Candles?

Chanukah Messengers

For various holidays, such as Nissan and Purim, messengers were sent from Jerusalem into the world to let people know when the new month and thus the holiday would begin. This also happened for Chanukkah.

When the miracle of the oil occurred in 139 BCE, the Jews celebrated. The rabbis then declared that these eight days should become an annual holiday on the Jewish calendar. The following year, 138 BCE, CHanukkah was celebrated for the first time, complete with the lighting of the CHanukkah menorah.

However, the main emphasis in the beginning was on the lighting of the Menorah in the Temple. After the destruction of the Temple, it became a commandment for Jews to say the candles of the Menorah with the accompanying bracha/ blessing.

Shammai reduce the candles

We have the opinion of Shammai. This one teaches that we should turn away from evil and turn toward good. (Pslam 34:15). Just as at Sukkot, 13 bulls were brought on the first day, 12 bulls on the second day, 11 bulls on the third day, etc., so each day the sacrifices became fewer sacrifices because the people had become more repentant.

Hillel multiply the candles

The second opinion is of Hillel, which is followed today, that 1 candle is added every day. Repentance is important, but we should not dwell too long on the past, but immediately replace bad habits with new ones and thereby increase divine service and thus divine light.

The Rebbe explained that this teaching is illustrated in the verse “And these are the laws that you must set before them.” (Ex. 21:1) The term “before them” means that a person should take the “positive” path to repentance and self- improvement.

Noahides, choose the positive path

Noahides may light the candles of the Chanukkah Menorah, without the bracha/blessing. Add a candle each day, so that the focus on the positive changes are with yourself. How beautiful it is to think of something small each day at a candle, in which you could show positive growth.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Chabad Article: When did Chanukah become an official Jewish holiday?, Chabad Article: Returning in the Right Direction

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