Jewish rejoicing celebrated in honor of the miracle that occurred at the illumination of the Temple after the victory over the forces of Yehuda Maccabi armies of King Antiochus in 164 BC. This holiday begins in the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev and continues for eight days.
In 332 BC Jew voluntarily came under the rule of Alexander the Great, who adhere to a policy of non-interference in the religious life of the Jews. After Alexander's death in 323 BC and numerous wars fought among themselves his heirs came to power the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty and the next century was in a state of relative stability.
In 198 BC The Ptolemies were defeated the Seleucids (Assyrian Greeks), Judea was also fell into their hands. At first, the overall situation seemed unchanged, and even improved. Jews received written guarantees confirming their right to live "according to the laws of their fathers" and the tax burden was reduced. But then the Seleucids began attempts Hellenize Jews. Greek philosophy and culture gradually began to get into a Jewish environment. In 175 BC came to power, Antiochus Epiphanes, with him the Hellenization of non-Greek population particularly stringent form. The Torah was forbidden books, respect Jewish laws - was a serious crime and all over the idols were installed. Antiochus gave his name to Jerusalem, the temple treasures were confiscated, and the temple itself was looted.
In response in the Judea started an uprising, led by the Maccabees family. Compared with the army of Antiochus, the rebel army was small, poorly armed and prepared. Judah Maccabee led the army, realizing this, avoided open battles, preventing enemy to take the numerical advantage. Attacking the separate units of the Greeks, the rebel army won a victory after victory. For three years, they ousted the invaders from the country and liberate Jerusalem, proving that the higher purpose and the spirit occasionally have a decisive importance.
Tradition says that the rising to the Temple Mount, the Jews found in the Temple oil for lamps, enough to keep a fire burning for only one day. But miraculously the fire in the golden menorah burned for eight days, during which prepared the new reserves of oil. So was re-consecrated the Temple. In memory of this event in the holiday each evening light candles: one - on the first day, two - in the second, three - in the third and so on, up to eight, using, as a rule, a special candelabrum - Hanukkah. Jewish proverb says: "A little bit of light is enough to dispel large darkness."
Hanukkah there are a vacation to children, traditionally decided to present them toys and money. On the events that was a long time ago also recalls playing Hanukkah peg-top, on each of the four faces of which is written the first letter of the phrase "a great miracle happened here" (if it happens in Israel) or "great miracle happened there" (in the Diaspora).
PRECEPT LIGHTENING THE CANDLES
In commemoration of the miracle that took place at the dedication of the Temple, we light the candles of Hanukkah, and this is the central moment of celebration, so Hanukkah is sometimes called "the festival of lights." This duty - to light candles - belongs to all men, women and children over nine years, but it is considered fairly if the head of the family lights one lamp for all. In memory of the Menorah (the temple illuminator), which was very beautiful, recd to light the most beautiful candles and put them in a beautiful candle holder. Chanukah lights are lit after sunset.
Since ancient times, spread the certain way to execute the percept of ignition of the Hanukkah lights. Lamp lights the head of the family, and on the first night - one light, in the second - two, and so on until the eighth night will be lit all eight lights. This order is set to remind you that each new light more precious, because it reminds of a miracle, it is becoming more evident and significant every day.
Lights of Hanukkah there are a sacred light because they are lit with a single purpose - to fulfill the commandment. accordingly to that it is prohibited to use their light for reading, for example, or for any work. Candles Hanukkah - menorah symbol: as Menorah in the Temple was a source not physical, but spiritual light, which the Temple gave to the world, and now the Hanukkah candles are designed to connect to G-d through the fulfillment of His precept. This purpose Hanukkah candles highlights by the custom to install ner shamash - additional "working candle," sort of to say this: shamash - to illuminate the room, and the candles of Hanukkah - for spiritual light.
Shamash, who lit the lights are placed above the other candles (to distinguish it from them.) Lightening the candles all the family come together for greater "glorification of the miracle."
PROCEDURE IGNITION CANDLES
On the first night of Hanukkah (24 to 25 Kislev) before lighting the first light, say three blessings:
BARUKH ATA ADO-NAI, ELO-EYNU MELEH AOLAM, ASHER KIDSHANU BEMITSVOTAV VETSIVANU LEADLIK NER SHEL HANUKKAH.
(Blessed You, L-rd, our God, the Lord of the universe, has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights!)
BARUKH ATA ADO-NAI, ELO -EYNU MELEH AOLAM, SHEASA NISSIM LAAVOTEYNU, BAYAMIM AEM BAZMAN AZE.
(Blessed You, L-rd, our God, the Lord of the universe, hast miracles for our fathers in those days, in these days (of the year)!)
BARUKH ATA ADO-NAI, ELO -EYNU MELEH AOLAM, SHEGEHIYANU VEKIYMANU VEIGIANU LAZMAN AZE.
(Blessed You, L-rd, our God, the Lord of the universe, who has granted life to us and support in us and gave us to live up to this time!)
In the rest days before the lighting Hanukkah lights pronounced only the first two blessings.
FEATURES OF THE HANNUKAH WEEK
Since olden times been formed the way to organize in the days of Hanukkah more abundant meal than usual, accompany them with traditional songs that were written in honor of this holiday, and talk about the miracles that God has done for our ancestors in those days. In the days of Hanukkah are allowed to work.
In Hanukkah pay special attention to the education Torah to children. In many communities, various activities are held, whose mission - to encourage children wish for a deep study of the Torah. It is the custom to distribute to children in these activities "Hanukkah money" in order to get their attention and interest. Some of that money should be required to give to tzdakah. Children should be taught this from an early age, especially in the days of Hanukkah is accepted to give more money for tzdakah than usual.
Children during Hanukkah play savivon - four-sided peg-top, the faces of which are inscribed the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimel, Hay and Pey ( in the Diaspora - Shin). This is the first letter of each word of the phrase "A great miracle happened here (in the Diaspora - there, in the Land of Israel)." The game in savivon was invented to even very young children thinking about the miracle of Hanukkah. And in times of Syrian domination children were playing top front of the cave, and thus distracting Syrians. Although in the Hanukkah is not necessarily hold a festive meal, most Jews even so trying these days to sit down at a table in a festive atmosphere, to talk about the Torah and tell about the miracles of Hanukkah. In the days of Hanukkah taken to prepare traditional Hanukkah foods: potato pancakes (latkes in Yiddish) and donuts. With the Hanukkah is connected the way to how they are prepared with vegetable oil that recalls the miracle of Hanukkah.