Thoughts for the Season

Written on 12/24/2020
Block Island Times

History of Hanukkah

The Talmud (Rabbinical discussion of laws) says:

“Our rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of [the beginning of] the eight days of Hanukkah, on which lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed over them and defeated them, they searched and found only one bottle of oil sealed by the High Priest. It contained only enough for one day’s lighting. Yet a miracle was brought about with it, and they lit [with that oil] for eight days. The following year they were established as a festival, with Hallel [psalms of praise] and Thanksgiving. (Shabbat 21b)

The Rabbis never agreed unless there was a consensus. The earliest found Books of Maccabees were written in Greek and were controversial among the Rabbis [teachers] because when the later interpretations came along they were under Roman control and had lost a revolt against the Romans, including having the Second Temple being almost destroyed by the Romans. Instead of celebrating the earlier reclaiming of Judea by the Maccabees, the Rabbis emphasized the miracle of a small container of oil found in

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