ForRent.com would like to acknowledge all the celebrations that happen during the holiday season. Today at sun down starts Hanukkah!
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which may fall anytime from late November to late December. This festival celebrates the re-kindling of the Temple Menorah and is observed in Jewish homes by illuminating candles on each night of the holiday.
The number eight has special significance in Jewish theology. Seven is known as the number of days of creation. Eight, being one step after seven, would represent infinity. The number eight for Hanukkah symbolizes when the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple after it was destroyed. As they rebuilt the temple they searched for pure oil to relight the ner tamid, the “light that always burned.” They found only one jar of oil, enough to burn for one day. They used this oil to light the ner tamid, but rather than burning for just one day the ner tamid stayed lit for 8 days, enough time to obtain more oil.
On the twenty-fifth day of the Hebrew month of Kislev in 164 to 175 B.C.E., the temple was rededicated to God. The Jews celebrated for 8 days and Judah declared that an 8 day holiday called Hanukkah, or “dedication,” would be celebrated each year beginning on this day. This is considered the holidayâs miracle.
Hanukkah is celebrated by a series of rituals that take place every day during the eight day holiday. Among these rituals are additional daily prayer services and blessings after meals. The primary custom is to light a candle each night for eight nights, with the number of candles lit increase with each passing night. An extra light called shamash, meaning guard or servant is also lit each night. The significance of the Hanukkah lights is not for the âlighting of the house withinâ but rather the âillumination of the house withoutâ so that passers-by should see it and be reminded of the holidayâs miracle.
The candles should be lit for at least a half an hour after it gets dark, although some backgrounds differ. On Friday night, however, the candles must burn longer, as they also acknowledge the start of Shabbat, which is the weekly day of rest in Judaism. There are typically three blessings that are recited during Hanukkah. On the first night, Jews recite all three blessings, on the following nights only the first two are recited.
The first blessing roughly translates to âBlessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.â The second blessing âBlessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those days, at this moment.â And the third blessing, only to be recited on the first night, âBlessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.â
After the lighting of the candles a prayer is recited, which translates into: âWe light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred and we are not permitted to make them serve except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name and for your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations.â In North America, it is a common practice to exchange gifts or give children presents at this time.
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