Meaning and Celebration of the Feast of Chanukah
The Victory over Darkness!
By Gilbert & Sabrina Suard
Chanukah, means "Dedication". The word also means to educate, to initiate.
Although this feast is not a Biblical one, its significance is very important and represents the spiritual warfare between the Light of the Torah and the darkness of a world without it. The story of Chanukah commemorates the victory of the Hasmoneans over the Greeks and the Jewish independence in Israel which started with the purification of the Temple and the restoration of God's worship.
On the 25th of the month of Kislev, Judah Maccabee, the leader of the revolt, rededicated the Beth Hamikdash (Temple) and lit the golden menorah. But only one pure olive jug was found and the menorah was to burn non stop day and night. Acting out of faith, the Hasmoneans lit the menorah and the oil lasted miraculously for eight days, the time needed to prepare some new pure oil. The feast of Chanukah was established in order to celebrate this miracle and the victory of the Torah over the darkness of the Greek thinking.
A few points are necessary to understand here:
Judaism assimilates Greece to one of the four exiles the Jewish people went through, the three others being: Babylon, Persia, and Rome. Those four exiles are linked to the first words of Bereshit (Genesis):
Greece is linked with darkness. Darkness because of the attempt of the Greeks to destroy the soul of Judaism by "converting" the Jews to Hellenism, forbidding the reading and teaching of the Torah, the practice of circumcision, Shabbat and new months celebration and forcing the new Jewish brides to sleep with a Greek officer before the wedding day defiling the holiness of marriage and family.
The Greeks, under the rule of the terrible Antiochus IV, who was called Epiphanies ("the Splendid One", and also "divine manifestation"), defiled the Temple, offering pork to sacrifice on the altar and defiling all the olive oil jugs for the lighting of the golden menorah.
The menorah was the symbol of God's light in the Temple, shining day and night and the purpose was clear:
To prevent God's light to shine and testify of the Truth.
The corrupted Greek world was still at that time the super power, and its goal was to Hellenize the rest of the world through the Greek culture, language and customs. A lot of those customs were deeply pagan and impure with no place for holiness.
It is interesting to note that God had given the gift of art, and aesthetic to the descendants of Yefet through Noach 's mouth:
May God enlarge Yefet; he will live in the tents of Shem, but Kena'an will be their servant. Genesis 9:27
Yefet, in Hebrew means "beauty". One of his descendants was Yavan (Genesis 10:2), which means Greece in Hebrew. Up to the Talmud, this verse means that the gift of beauty and arts that was given to Yefet must dwell in the tent of Shem, which symbolizes the spiritual values. No beauty if not to glorify the Creator.
Athens was the capital of modernism; everything was made for the sake of humanism, personal achievement, beauty of the body, pleasure of the eyes and the flesh that finally lead to corruption.
Jerusalem was the spiritual centre of the world, and represented God's wisdom; the Temple was testifying the presence of God, the shekhina on earth.
What the Greeks wanted was not to destroy physically the Jews, like Haman or Hitler wanted to do, but to capture their mind and change their worldview.
The Jews then didn't have any choice: to resist or to die. The ones who compromised lost their identities and became corrupted.
Today our western world has much inherit from the Greek thinking and Shaul (Paul) was already warning us to be careful:
In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the 'olam hazeh (this world) Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. Romans 12:2
In the renewed Covenant (NT) we see a mention of this commemoration:
Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking around inside the Temple area, in Shlomo's Colonnade. John: 10:22-23
No wonder why He was there for the Feast of the Lights, as is this celebration also called. The menorah speaks of the wonderful light He brought to the world and to our lives:
Yeshua spoke to them again: "I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life. " John 8:12
This message is very relevant for the Church today. As the olive tree that cannot be easily hybridized and its olive oil mixed up, we need to watch the purity of source of inspiration and lit the Menorah of God's Word with pure oil, sanctified with His Spirit and never forget that as Yitz'chaq never left the Holy Land having being consecrated as an holocaust for God, neither can we fully receive the revelation of Yeshua without understanding the role of Yisra-El in the plan of Redemption.
Celebration of the Feast:
The Feast starts on the 25th of Kislev at night which will be this year: On the eve of Tuesday, December/Kislev 7th 2004/5765
You need to light a Chanukah Menorah, a chanukia which holds 8 candles plus the Shamash (an extra candle used to light the others height). On the first night one candle is lit and three blessings are recited:
"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and His blood*, and commanded us to kindle the light of Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed miracles for our forefathers, whom we are the spiritual descendants through Avraham, in those days at this time.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has given us life, and sustained us, and brought us to this day and Who is the Light of the world."
On the first light one candle is lit, the second night two candles and so on till the eight night when all of the candles are kindled. Start from the far right to the left. The Shamash (server) is used for the kindling.
Everybody, men, women and children are required to light the chanukkia as everybody needs the Light in his life. There are beautiful hymns sung on Chanukah. The most popular is Maoz Tzur Yeshuati (the Rock of my salvation).
The top spinning, Sevivon, a game of chance. Four letters are printed on the fourth sides:
We usually eat potatoes pancakes (Levivot) and doughnuts filled with jam (sufganiot). Check on http://www.aish.com/ for songs, art crafts and recipes.
We wish you a Happy Chanukka Feast and may the Light of His Spirit shine in your hearts and lead you to holiness!
*Messianic additions in red
Sukkat David Ministry
Family ministry devoted to the writing of books meant to impart a Jewish understanding of the Renewed Covenant (NT)
Gilbert & Sabrina Suard
Please visit their web site for other tecahings they have done, and look for their Messianic Haggadah plus Teachers Manual which is now sold on-line, it is worth the small price they are selling them for.
Rev. Barbara Di Gilio <><