What is Chanukah?

Dan0813

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On this first day of Chanukah 2016 (25th of Kislev, 5777, on the Jewish calendar), I'd thought I'd post a couple of text passages that explain why Jews observe Chanukah.

First, here is the passage referred to as V'al Hanissim, which is added to each of the three daily prayer services, and to the blessings said after each meal, during the eight days of Chanukah:

And [we thank You] for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time—

In the days of Matityahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Hellenic government rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will. But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress. You waged their battles, defended their rights, and avenged the wrong done to them. You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your world, and effected a great deliverance and redemption for Your people Israel to this very day. Then Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.

Reference: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/597182/jewish/Val-Hanissim.htm

And secondly, here is an extract from Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139:1 (The Code of Jewish Law):

In the [era of the] Second Temple, during the reign of the Greek Empire, [the Greeks] issued decrees against the Jewish people, and outlawed their religion. They did not allow them to engage in Torah [study] or the [performance of] mitzvos [commandments], and they set their hands upon their money and daughters. They entered the Sanctuary [of the Beis HaMikdash (Temple)] and breached its [walls], and defiled the ritually pure [items therein]. The Jews were extremely persecuted by [the Greeks], and [the Greeks] oppressed them heavily, until the G-d of our forefathers had mercy on them and saved them. The Chashmonean family of High Priests overpowered [the Greeks] and killed them, and delivered the Jewish people from their hands. They appointed a king from the Kohanim [priests], and the Jewish kingdom returned [to power] for over two hundred years, until the destruction of the Second [Beis HaMikdash (Temple)]. When the Jews overpowered their enemies and destroyed them, it was the twenty-fifth [day] of the month of Kislev. They entered the Sanctuary, and found only one ritually pure flask of oil in the [Beis HaMikdash] that was left with the seal of the High Priest [upon it and could be used to light the Menorah]. It contained only [enough oil] to light [the Menorah] for just one day, [but, miraculously,] they lit from [the flask] the arrangement [of lights on the Menorah] for eight days, until they [were able to] press olives and extract oil that was ritually pure. Because of this, the Sages of that generation instituted that these eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth of Kislev, should be days of rejoicing and praise. ...

Reference: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch - Code of Jewish Law, Vol. 4, Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 2010, pp.477-478.
 
On this first day of Chanukah 2016 (25th of Kislev, 5777, on the Jewish calendar), I'd thought I'd post a couple of text passages that explain why Jews observe Chanukah.

Well, what's the relationship between tzedakah (charity) and Chanukah? I just saw this word (tzedakah) posted today on dictionary.com here.
 
Tzedakah (usually translated as "charity") is supposed to be done year-round. It has the same relationship with Chanukah as with any other time of the year.
 
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