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Monday, November 25, 2013

Forget Thanksgivukkah--Here's the REAL Reason for Celebrating Chanukah

I know there's a big fuss about Thanksgiving coinciding with Chanukah this year, and I can understand that. The former is an important American secular (as opposed to Christian, although it was that as well, generically) holiday, and Chanukah, although a "minor" holiday-as opposed to a Holy holiday such as Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach/Passover and Shavuot-designated by our sages thousands of years ago (it ain't new, that's for sure), is quite big in the United States, giving Jews, both affiliated and not something to celebrate while their Christian brethren are making a big commercial deal about Christmas.

But what is the reason we celebrate Chanukah? The popular narrative is that the one little cruse of pure, un-contaminated oil was only enough to last for one day, but miraculously, it lasted for eight!  Of course, I loved this legend growing up; it made Chanukah magical to me, and I'm sure to many others.  Here is an interview with Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, of Machon Shilo, which is probably the truth: we celebrate Chanukah to commemorate recapturing the Beit HaMikdash, our Holy Temple, from the Syrian Greeks, with G-d's help--purifying it, rededicating it to the worship of Hashem, and asserting the sovereignty of the Jewish People over our holy city of Jerusalem.

That's what Chanukah is all about. Now go enjoy your turkey and cranberry-filled sufganiyot.



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