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Parshat Mikeitz, 5762
Year of Hakhel

Kislev 29, 5762 * Dec. 14, 2001

Your Chanukah Guide - 5762

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We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly publication, Living With Moshiach.


In this week's issue, we focus on the festive holiday of Chanukah, which begins Sunday night, Dec. 9.

Therefore, we present here "Your Chanukah Guide,"* and other related material about Chanukah.


Our sincere appreciation to L'Chaim weekly publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing us to use their material.

Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb Mordechai Staiman, for his tireless efforts.


It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind

22 Kislev, 5762
Year of Hakhel
Brooklyn, New York


*. Published by Prestige Litho.

Adapted from the Works of the Rebbe

Parshat Mikeitz

Last week's Torah portion dealt with the subject of dreams -- those of Joseph's, and Pharaoh's officers. This week, in the Torah portion of Mikeitz, we continue to delve into dreams, but this time, those of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

The common denominator shared by all these dreams is that they collectively portrayed the various stages and factors that caused Jacob and his sons to go to Egypt. As a direct result, the Jewish people were exiled there.

Every word in the Torah is necessary and precise. If the subject of dreams receives so much emphasis and, we are told, such a wealth of detail, there must be a fundamental connection between the concept of dreams and the concept of exile. Furthermore, by understanding the significance of dreams, we shall be better able to overcome the difficulties we endure during our own prolonged exile.

Chasidic philosophy explains that the most outstanding characteristic of dreams is the ability for diametrically opposed opposites to coexist, something that cannot take place in reality.

This is also true of our own exile, an unnatural and abnormal situation, but one seemingly natural and normal to us. It is of such long duration, we can no longer feel the contradictions inherent in the galut (exile) itself.

The same contradictions also apply to our spiritual galut. It is understood that self-love and the pursuit of worldly pleasures are the opposite of cultivating a love of G-d and holiness. Yet, we often perform mitzvot under the illusion that we are doing so out of love of G-d and are in close proximity to Him, all the while caring only for our own egos and self-fulfillment. We simply don't perceive the contradiction in this.

Another example of our lack of logic is found in prayer. While praying, the Jew's innate love and emotional attachment to G-d can be aroused, but as soon as he finishes, it is as if he had never experienced this arousal as he returns to his preoccupation with day-to-day life. Although he stood on such a high spiritual level while actually communing with G-d, the feelings dissipate as the individual finds himself led after the cravings of the animal soul.

Thus our very lives are lived as if we are dreaming. The spiritual exile is full of contradictions, yet we must not be discouraged and think that we perform mitzvot and pray in vain, for every positive deed leaves its mark even if its influence is not always easily felt.


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.


Dear Friend:

The Chanukah lights which are kindled in the darkness of night recall to our minds memories of the past: the war that the Hasmoneans waged against huge Syrian armies, their victory, the dedication of the Temple, the rekindling of the Menorah, the small quantity of oil that lasted for many days, and so on.

Let's picture ourselves members of the little band of Hasmoneans in those days. We are under the domination of a powerful Syrian King; many of our brethren have left us and accepted the idolatry and way of life of the enemy. But our leaders, the Hasmoneans, do not commence action by comparing numbers and weapons, and weighing our chances of victory. The Holy Temple has been invaded by a cruel enemy. The Torah and our faith are in grave danger. The enemy has trampled upon everything holy to us and is trying to force us to accept his way of life, which is that of idol worship, injustice, and similar traits altogether foreign to us. There is but one thing for us to do -- to adhere all the closer to our religion and precepts, and to fight against the enemy even if we have to die in this fight.

And wonder of wonders! The huge Syrian armies are beaten, the vast Syrian Empire is defeated, our victory is complete.

This chapter of our history has repeated itself frequently. We, as Jews, have always been outnumbered; many tyrants attempted to destroy us because of our faith. Sometimes they aimed their poisoned arrows at our bodies, sometimes at our souls, and, sad to say, many of our brethren have for one reason or another turned away from G-d and His Torah and tried to make life easier by accepting the rule of the conqueror.

In such times of distress we must always be like that faithful band of Hasmoneans, and remember that there is always a drop of "pure olive oil" hidden deep in the heart of every Jew, which, if kindled, bursts into a big flame. This drop of "pure olive oil"is the "Perpetual Light" that must and will pierce the darkness of our present night, until every one of us will behold the fulfillment of the prophet's promise for our ultimate redemption and triumph. And like in the days of the Hasmoneans "the wicked will once again be conquered by the righteous, and the arrogant by those who follow G-d's laws, and our people Israel will have a great salvation."

With Chanukah Greetings,

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson


The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this as a prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption, through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.

Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.

Kislev 25 - Tevet 2, 5762
Dec. 9 - 17, 2001

An Introduction

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is among the most widely celebrated of Jewish holidays. It is a time for happy family gatherings around the menorah, for children's songs and sizzling potato latkes and games of "dreidel." For many of us, it brings back fond memories of childhood, or serves to renew our sense of Jewish identity.

Yet Chanukah is rarely appreciated for its full significance. What are its deeper teachings, its historical origins, its relevance for today? Surely Chanukah means more than just kids' parties or nostalgia for times gone by.

Your Chanukah Guide is designed to provide the practical details as well as some insights into the "inner dimension" of Chanukah observance. We hope it serves you well.


Under Syrian Rule

It was in the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, nearly twenty-two centuries ago, when the events took place that we commemorate each year at Chanukah time.

The Jewish people had returned to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian Exile, and had rebuilt the Holy Temple. But they remained subject to the domination of imperial powers, first, the Persian Empire, then later, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great. Upon the death of Alexander, his vast kingdom was divided among his generals. After a power struggle that engulfed all the nations of the Middle East, Israel found itself under the sway of the Seleucid dynasty, Greek kings who reigned from Syria.

Alexander Bows to the High Priest

The Talmud relates that when Alexander the Great and his conquering legions advanced upon Jerusalem, they were met by a delegation of elders, led by the high Priest Shimon HaTzaddik. When Alexander saw Shimon approaching, he dismounted and prostrated himself before the Jewish Sage.

To his astonished men, Alexander explained that each time he went into battle, he would see a vision in the likeness of this High Priest leading the Greek troops to victory.

In gratitude, and out of profound respect for the spiritual power of the Jews, Alexander was a kind and generous ruler. He canceled the Jewish taxes during Sabbatical years, and even offered animals to be sacrificed on his behalf in the Temple.

Unfortunately, history would show that Alexander's heirs failed to sustain his benevolence.

The "Madman"

Though at first, the rule of the Seleucids was rather benign, there soon arose a new king, Antiochus IV, who was to wage a bloody war against the Jews, a war that would threaten not just their physical lives, but also their very spiritual existence.

Over the years of Greek domination, many Jews had begun to embrace the Greek culture and its hedonistic, pagan way of life. These Jewish Hellenists became willing pawns in Antiochus's scheme to obliterate every trace of the Jewish religion. The Holy Temple was invaded, desecrated, and looted of all its treasures. Vast numbers of innocent people were massacred, and the survivors were heavily taxed. Antiochus placed an idol of Zeus on the holy Altar, and forced the Jews to bow before it under penalty of death. And he forbade the Jewish people to observe their most sacred traditions, such as the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision.

Antiochus went so far as to proclaim himself a god, taking the name "Antiochus Epiphanies" -- the Divine. But even his own followers mocked him as "Antiochus Epimanes" -- the madman.

Jason and Menelaus

His Hebrew name was Joshua. But he changed his name, as did many among the Hellenists, to Jason. And he offered King Antiochus a generous bribe to depose the High Priest and appoint him to the coveted position. It was the beginning of the end to the integrity of the Temple Priesthood.

The "High Priest" Jason erected a gymnasium near the Temple, and proceeded to corrupt his fellow Jews with pagan customs and licentious behavior. But before long, another Hellenized Jew, Menelaus, beat Jason at his own game and bought the High Priesthood with an even bigger bribe, financed with the golden vessels pilfered from the Temple.

Jason then amassed an army and attacked Menelaus in the Holy City, massacring many of his own countrymen. Antiochus interpreted this civil squabble as a revolt against his throne, and sent his armies into Jerusalem, plundering the Temple and murdering tens of thousands of Jews. It was neither the first time, nor the last, that assimilation and strife brought calamity upon the Jewish people.

The Turning Point

In every city and town, altars were erected with statues of the Greek gods and goddesses. Soldiers rounded up the Jews and forcibly compelled them to make offerings, and to engage in other immoral acts customary to the Greeks. As Antiochus's troops tightened their grip on the nation, the Jews seemed incapable of resistance.

It was in the small village of Modin, a few miles east of Jerusalem, that a single act of heroism turned the tide of Israel's struggle, and altered her destiny for all time. Mattityahu, patriarch of the priestly Hasmonean clan, stepped forward to challenge the Greek soldiers and those who acquiesced to their demands. Backed by his five sons, he attacked the troops, slew the idolaters, and destroyed the idols. With a cry of "All who are with G-d, follow me!" he and a courageous circle of partisans retreated to the hills, where they gathered forces to overthrow the oppression of Antiochus and his collaborators.

Guerrilla Warfare

The army of Mattityahu, now under the command of his son Yehuda Maccabee, grew daily in numbers and in strength. With the biblical slogan, "Who is like You among the mighty ones, O G-d?" emblazoned on their shields, they would swoop down upon the Syrian troops under cover of darkness and scatter the oppressors, then return to their encampments in the hills. Only 6,000 strong, they defeated a heavily armed battalion of 47,000 Syrians.

Enraged, Antiochus sent an even larger army against them, and in the miraculous, decisive battle at Bet Tzur, the Jewish forces emerged victorious. From there, they proceeded on to Jerusalem, where they liberated the city and reclaimed the Holy Temple. They cleared the Sanctuary of the idols, rebuilt the Altar, and prepared to resume the Divine Service.

A central part of the daily service in the Temple was the kindling of the brilliant lights of the menorah. Now, with the Temple about to be rededicated, only one small cruse of the pure, sacred olive oil was found. It was only one day's supply, and they knew it would take more than a week for the special process required to prepare more oil.

Undaunted, in joy and thanksgiving, the Maccabees lit the lamps of the Menorah with the small amount of oil, and dedicated the Holy Temple anew. And miraculously, as if in confirmation of the power of their faith, the oil did not burn out, and the flames shone brightly for eight full days. The following year, our Sages officially proclaimed the festival of Chanukah as a celebration lasting eight days, in perpetual commemoration of this victory over religious persecution.


Kindle the Chanukah menorah on each of the eight nights of Chanukah. For the dates and times see the "Chanukah Menorah Kindling Times."

Use olive oil or paraffin candles, large enough to burn until half an hour after nightfall, for the lights of the menorah.

Use a "shamesh" (service candle) to kindle the lights, and place it in its special place on the menorah.

For the number of lights and the order of kindling, see the "Chanukah Menorah Kindling Times."

Before kindling, recite the blessings, and after kindling recite, "We kindle these lights...".

All members of the family should be present at the kindling of the Chanukah lights. Have all young boys kindle their own Chanukah menorahs and, on Friday afternoon, have all young girls light their own Shabbat candles. Students and singles, who live in a dormitory or in their own apartments, should kindle menorahs in their own rooms.

The Chanukah lights are kindled either in the front window or by a doorway, opposite the mezuzah. (In a hotel, for example, or where there is no mezuzah, the menorah is placed on the right side of the door.)

On Friday afternoon the Chanukah lights (which will burn until 1/2 hour after nightfall) are kindled before the Shabbat candles are lit.

From the time the Shabbat candles are lit until Shabbat ends and the Havdalah (separation between Shabbat and weekday) prayer is recited, the Chanukah menorah should not be relit, moved or prepared. After Shabbat ends, the Chanukah lights for Saturday night are kindled.

Please Note:

The candle is placed on the extreme right of the menorah. The "newest" candle is always added to the left of the one that was lit the previous night, and is first to be lit (i.e., on the second night we light the second candle, and then we light the candle of the previous night, proceeding from left to right; and so on, on each of the other nights).


For Chanukah Menorah Kindling Times in
your area, and for a Chanukah Kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

SUNDAY, DEC. 9 - 1 candle.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1, 2 & 3.

MONDAY, DEC. 10 - 2 candles.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.

TUESDAY, DEC. 11 - 3 candles.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12 - 4 candles.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.

THURSDAY, DEC. 13 - 5 candles.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.

FRIDAY, DEC. 14 - 6 candles.
Before Shabbat candle lighting.
Before 4:11 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.
For Shabbat candle lighting Blessing - See Shabbat Candle Lighting Blessing

SATURDAY, DEC. 15 - 7 candles.
After Shabbat ends and Havdalah is recited.
After 5:16 p.m. Blessings # 1 & 2.

SUNDAY, DEC. 16 - 8 candles.
After Nightfall, at 5:08 p.m.
Blessings # 1 & 2.


Before kindling the lights, recite:


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu
Le-had-lik Ner Cha-nu-kah.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has sanctified us with His commandments,
and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.


Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
She-o-so Ni-sim La-avo-sei-nu Ba-yo-mim
Ho-heim Bi-z'man Ha-zeh.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who performed miracles for our forefathers
in those days, at this time.


The following blessing is said only on the first evening
(or the first time one kindles the lights this Chanukah):

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
She-heche-yo-nu Ve-ki-ye-mo-nu Ve-higi-o-nu
Liz-man Ha-zeh.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us
to reach this occasion.

After kindling the lights, the following is recited:

We kindle these lights (to commemorate) the saving acts, miracles and wonders
which You have performed for our forefathers, in those days at this time,
through Your holy kohanim. Throughout the eight days of Chanukah,
these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make use of them,
but only to look at them, in order to offer thanks and praise to
Your great Name for Your miracles, for Your wonders
and for Your salvations.

Based on the Works of the Rebbe

At War with the Soul

King Antiochus was not out to annihilate the Jewish people (G-d forbid) or to enslave us, or drive us from our land. The Greeks were at war not with our physical existence, but with our souls. Their aim was to strip our way of life of its spirituality, of its holiness. It was acceptable, in the eyes of the Hellenists, for Jews to identify as Jews, and even to study Torah and do mitzvot, provided that we were willing to forsake the G-dliness of Torah. The pragmatic materialism of Greek culture left no room for our special relationship with G-d.

This idea has particular significance in the modern world. Today, thank G-d, the majority of world Jewry lives in relative material comfort. Democratic society affirms our basic rights of survival, and many opportunities are available to Jews that were denied us in more oppressive times. These blessings, however, have also made it easy to overlook the very source of our strength as a people. Like the Hellenists of old, today's prevailing secular culture, with its emphasis on materialism and hedonism, can obscure the spiritual aspect of life.

The Chanukah lights are sacred. As we say in the prayer after lighting the menorah, "We are not permitted to make use of them, but only to look at them, in order to offer thanks and praise to Your great Name for Your miracles, for Your wonders and for Your salvations." We affirm the supremacy of spiritual light over coarse materialism, of Divine wisdom over human limitations. We recognize that the world in which we live is not an end in itself, but exists to serve a higher spiritual purpose; this won't be in opposition to G-dliness, but, on the contrary, to be elevated by becoming a dwelling place for G-d, to the extent that it becomes unified with, and reflects, G-dliness -- in the imminent Redemption.

Illuminating the Darkness

A great rabbi once remarked that "You cannot chase away darkness with a stick, you have to turn on the light." The way to eliminate darkness -- to rid the world of ignorance, negativity, hatred and greed -- is to kindle the lights of knowledge, generosity, hope and love.

The Chanukah menorah is lit only after nightfall. This signifies that our purpose is to illuminate the darkness of this world, until the time when, as the prophet says, "the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d." It may be difficult for us to perceive G-dliness in our everyday lives. But Chanukah reminds us, even in our darkest moments, that the light of knowledge can shine brightly, that redemption is at hand, if we will kindle just one more lamp.

Spreading the Light

The menorah is lit either in the doorway, or in a front window, so that it can be seen outside in the street. This teaches us that it is not enough to bring light into our own private domain. We must spread the light and warmth of Torah to the outer environment as well, as far as our influence can reach.

Brighter and Brighter

Each night of Chanukah we add another light to the menorah, until all eight lamps shine on the eighth night. This signifies that in matters of holiness, we must always be on the increase. With every added flame, we go from strength to strength in deepening our commitment to the values and traditions of our Jewish way of life.

Defiling the Oil

The Syrian-Greek desecration of the Holy Temple was another example of their determination to destroy the sanctity of Jewish life. The worship of one invisible, omnipotent G-d was replaced with the worship of pagan deities made in the image of man.

The Torah tells us that "the soul of man is the lamp of G-d." Just as oil permeates the olive, the Divine soul permeates the Jew; and just as the oil burning in the menorah spreads light, the Jewish soul illuminates the world in the performance of good deeds. In defiling the sacred oil of the menorah, the Greeks tried to destroy the Jewish soul.

One Cruse of Pure Oil

But the soul cannot be extinguished. Miraculously, despite the best efforts of the oppressors, one cruse of pure oil remained in the Temple, and one cruse was enough to rededicate the Temple and renew the holy task of spreading light throughout the world.

Miracles for Today

The lights of the Chanukah menorah are more than simply a reminder of ancient miracles; they are meant to provide inspiration and illumination in our contemporary daily lives. In fact, in a very real sense, the Chanukah miracles of old are reenacted in our observance today. That is one reason why we say, in the second blessing recited over the Chanukah lights, "Blessed are You... who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time." By reflecting upon the significance of the Chanukah miracles, we can see, with ever-increasing clarity, the miraculous dimension of events in our own time.

What Is a Miracle?

Ordinarily, the routine of our day-to-day existence suggests that life is predictable, that events take place according to a natural order, a chain of cause and effect. We may not readily recognize that even "natural" phenomena are, in essence, evidence of the miraculous hand of G-d, until our hearts are stirred by a beautiful sunset, or a glimpse of wildflowers in bloom...

But there is another sort of miracle: an event so striking, so far beyond rational explanation, that we cannot help but recognize it as miraculous. This is the kind of miracle that Chanukah calls to mind. When one day's supply of oil lasts eight full days, we sit up and take notice. When an ill-equipped handful of Maccabees succeed in vanquishing all the assembled forces of a mighty imperial oppressor, we realize that nothing is impossible for G-d.

Redemption, Against All Odds

In the time of King Antiochus, the fate of the Jewish people seemed grim indeed. The vastly outnumbered Maccabees were up against the world's most sophisticated military machine. They faced opposition from within as well. Many of their brethren were meek, complacent, and all too willing to forsake their heritage and assimilate into the Hellenistic culture. It was the proverbial "darkest hour before the dawn." Yet, sure enough, with the dawn, came the miraculous, unprecedented victory. With G-d's help and against all odds, the Maccabees were able to reclaim the Holy Land and rededicate the Holy Temple.

Throughout the ages, Chanukah has signified the miraculous triumph of the weak over the strong, the pure over the impure, the righteous over the wicked. Whenever the integrity of the Jewish people is under siege, no matter how dark the night, the Chanukah lights proclaim with confidence that the dawn of deliverance is near.

The Ultimate Miracle

Today, the Chanukah lights have special relevance. Many among us despair of ever witnessing the dawn of redemption. After nearly two thousand years, it may seem that the cold, hard realities of exile have all but erased our age-old faith in the coming of Moshiach, who will lead us toward a perfect world. But Chanukah reminds us that G-d grants redemption in the blink of an eye, that the light of G-dliness can brighten even the darkest night.

With every lamp we kindle, with each good deed we do, we shed more light upon the world, and the darkness has already begun to disperse. Who could have imagined, a few short years ago, that communism would crumble, that entrenched totalitarian regimes would turn toward democracy, that hundreds of thousands of oppressed Jews would suddenly be free to emigrate to the Promised Land? Isaiah's messianic prophecy was that the nations of the world will "beat swords into plowshares." It's been our dream for centuries; it may well be tomorrow's headline.

Eight Days, Eight Lights

Our Sages explain that there is particular significance in the fact that the Chanukah menorah has eight lamps, and that we celebrate the Festival for eight days.

In the Holy Temple, the golden Menorah kindled each day in the Sanctuary had only seven lamps. The number seven represents the natural cycle of time: the seven days of the week, corresponding to the six days of Creation and the seventh, the Sabbath Day. Throughout history, since G-d created the world, time has been measured according to this seven-day cycle.

The number eight, however, represents a level that is higher than nature, and above time. This is the level of the miraculous, which is not bound by the laws of nature. It is especially fitting that we celebrate the miracle of Chanukah with eight lamps, culminating on the eighth day ... for the number eight is also associated with the revelation of Moshiach, may he come speedily, in our days!


The Menorah

The seven-branched candelabrum that we call the Menorah was one of the sacred vessels of the Holy Temple, and a magnificent work of art. Its design, as commanded in the Book of Exodus, was extraordinary -- as was the Divinely appointed manner of its construction. For the Menorah was not to be assembled from pieces, but was actually beaten from a single block of solid gold.

The Oneness of the Menorah

Our Sages have noted that the oneness of the Menorah's construction symbolizes the essential unity of the Jewish people. Just as the Menorah has seven branches and seven separate lamps, there are numerous types of Jews. We differ in many ways -- in our customs, our cultural milieu, our temperament. Yet in our basic "substance," in our spiritual essence, we are one.

The Shape of the Menorah

The familiar image of the Menorah, with curved branches emanating from the center stem in a semi-circular design, is actually a misrepresentation. According to Maimonides, the great codifier of Jewish Law, the branches of the Menorah extended straight out from the stem.

The earliest known example of the mistaken image of the Menorah is engraved on the Arch of Titus in Rome. The evil Titus was the Commander of the forces of the Roman Empire who sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. Titus carried off the Menorah as part of the spoils of his conquest. When the triumphal Arch was constructed to commemorate his victory, the Menorah figured prominently in its design, as a symbol of his subjugation of the Jews. Apparently, however, the Arch was built before he returned to Rome, and the Menorah was therefore inaccurately depicted.

The Oil

Only the purest of olive oils was used to kindle the Menorah. To begin with, the olives had to be grown on virgin soil, which had not been artificially fertilized or irrigated. The ripe olives, freshly picked from the highest branches of the tree, were gently squeezed until the first drops emerged -- and only these first, clearest drops of oil could be used for the Menorah. The oil was stored in a secure place to ensure its ritual purity.

The Ner Maaravi

Each morning, a priest would enter the Sanctuary and approach the Menorah to prepare the lamps for rekindling. Invariably, he would find one lamp still burning, while the other six had gone out. This was the Ner Maaravi, the western lamp. Though an equal amount of oil -- enough to burn overnight -- was always placed in each of the seven lamps, this western lamp miraculously burned on until the afternoon, when its flame was used to kindle the Menorah anew. The western lamp symbolizes the eternal presence of G-d in Israel's midst.


Special Prayers for Chanukah

During the eight days of Chanukah, we recite the "V'Al HaNissim" liturgy in the Amidah (Silent Prayer) for morning, afternoon, and evening, as well as in the Grace After Meals. In the morning service, we also say "Hallel," songs of praise taken from the Psalms of David. In addition, there is a special reading from the Torah Scroll each morning in the synagogue.

Chanukah Gelt

On Chanukah, it is traditional to give all children Chanukah gelt (money). Of course, this beautiful custom adds to the children's happiness and festive spirit. In addition, it affords us an opportunity to give them positive reinforcement for exemplary behavior, such as diligence in their studies, and acts of charity.


Because of the great significance of oil in the story of the Chanukah miracle, it is traditional to serve foods cooked in oil. Among the most popular Chanukah dishes is this recipe for delicious Potato Latkes.

  • 5 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup matzo meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup oil for frying

Grate potatoes and onion on the fine side of grater, or in food processor or through blender with a little water added to it. Add eggs and mix well. Add matzo meal and seasoning and mix well. Heat oil in frying pan, then add mixture one tablespoon at a time into frying pan. When golden brown, turn over and brown on other side.


Playing Dreidel

The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, also called a s'vivon, in Hebrew. On each side is a Hebrew letter: Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin. The letters stand for the phrase, "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" -- a great miracle happened there. It is traditionally used to play a lively Chanukah game.

Each player places some raisins, candies, or nuts into a kitty, and the players take turns spinning the dreidel. Nun means nothing, you win nothing, you lose nothing. Gimel means you take all. Hay means you win half of what is in the kitty. Shin means you lose, and must put more into the kitty.

The Origin of the Dreidel

The Syrians decreed that the teaching or studying of Torah was a crime punishable by death or imprisonment. But the children defiantly studied in secret; and when Syrian patrols were spotted, they would pretend to be playing an innocent game of dreidel.

Adapted from a Letter of the Rebbe

Chanukah commemorates the miraculous victory of our people over the forces of darkness and assimilation that had threatened to extinguish the light of the Torah and mitzvot. It also reminds us that this victory was achieved through the efforts of a few, totally dedicated Jews, and that the victory was celebrated by kindling lights in the Sanctuary in Jerusalem with pure, undefiled oil, which gave us the meaningful mitzvah of the Chanukah lights.

About the Chanukah lights our Sages of blessed memory declared: "These lights shall endure and shine forever." Unlike the seven-branched Menorah, the lighting of which had to be discontinued when the Sanctuary was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago, the lighting of the eight-branched Chanukah lamp -- which was inaugurated some 200 years prior to the destruction -- has continued uninterrupted ever since. It continues to be lit not only in the Holy Land, but also in the Diaspora, and not only in the Sanctuary, but in every Jewish home.

What are some of the eternal messages of these eternal lights of Chanukah?

One basic truth is that the destiny of the Jewish people is not determined by material and physical criteria, but by its spiritual strength derived from our G-d-given Torah and mitzvot. The victory of the greatly outnumbered and physically disadvantaged Jews over the many and mighty forces of the enemy clearly demonstrated that it is our spiritual strength that really counts -- even in areas where physical superiority is usually decisive.

A further lesson is that Jewish strength begins at home. A Jewish home is an abode for the Divine Presence, very much as the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was in a collective sense. Both are included in the Divine command, "Make Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell within each one of you." This, too, is reflected in the Chanukah lights, for they must be lit in every Jewish home. The time and location of the Chanukah lights are also significant: "The lights are kindled when the sun sets -- when 'darkness' falls outside." It is then high time to light up our homes with the sacred Chanukah lights that symbolize the eternal lights of Torah and mitzvot. The location -- to be visible also outside -- further indicates that the Torah and mitzvot must not be confined within the walls of the home, but must shine forth outside as well.

Yet another important lesson must be mentioned here: namely, that however satisfactory the observance of Torah and mitzvot may be on any given day, a Jew is expected to do better the next day, and still better the day after. There is always room for improvement in matters of goodness and holiness, which are infinite, being derived from the Infinite. This, too, is underscored by the Chanukah lights. For although all that is required to fulfill the mitzvah of candle-lighting on the first night of Chanukah is to light one candle, yet the next night of Chanukah it is required to light two candles. And when another day passes, even the higher standard of the previous day is no longer adequate, and an additional light is called for, and so on, increasing the light from day to day.


"Listen to the Chanukah lights," the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, used to tell his chasidim. Each light has a unique tale and a profound message.


The Hebrew word Chanukah shares the same root as the word Chinuch -- education. During Chanukah we focus our attention on matters affecting the Jewish education of children. For this reason it is also traditional to give Chanukah gelt to children after testing them on Jewish subjects.


Women played an integral role in Chanukah. The heroic stories of Chana and Yehudit are well known. Lesser known is the following tale:

If a boy was born to the wife of one who was hiding to avoid the decrees of the Greeks, the mother circumcised the child on the eighth day though the Greeks had forbidden circumcision.

Then she went up on the wall of Jerusalem and hurled herself and her child from the wall to certain death.

According to our Sages, she was thereby saying to her husband and brothers who had gone into hiding to escape war: "If you will not go out to fight, you will have neither children nor wives, and you will be annihilated.

"We will observe what is holy to us, not in hiding, but publicly.

"If you intend to save us, emerge from your caves, and fight against the enemy till you destroy him. G-d will be with you!" It was only after some women did this that Mattityahu and his five sons arose like lions.


There are allusions in the Torah to Chanukah, though the events leading up to the festival occurred much later:

"In the beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the earth...and G-d said, 'Let there be light...'." Light -- ohr -- is the 25th word in the Torah. The rededication of the Holy Temple and the relighting of the Menorah took place on the 25th of the month of Kislev.

When the Jews traveled through the Sinai desert, they stopped 42 times.

The 25th place where they encamped was Hasmona. Mattityahu, the head of the Hasmonai family, led the revolt against the Greeks.

The Sanctuary in the desert was completed on the 25th of Kislev, eight months after the Exodus from Egypt. But it was not dedicated until three months later. Jewish teachings explain that the 25th of Kislev was set aside for the future rededication of the Holy Temple by the Maccabees.


One of the greatest miracles of the oil that lasted for eight and not one day was the miracle of Jewish Faith. That the Jews did not despair from lighting the Menorah even the first day, though knowing that they would be unable the following day to fulfill the mitzvah of keeping a perpetual lamp burning, was in itself a great miracle.


Under the circumstances, it was permissible to use the impure oil found after the war to keep the Menorah lit. But the Jews insisted on using only undefiled oil, which was not obtainable for eight days. They were declaring: "We're not interested in the compromises that the Hellenists have been trying to sell us." For the decrees of the Greeks were intended to reduce the emphasis on the holiness and Divinity of the Torah.


Oil, upon which the miracle of Chanukah is based, is an interesting substance. It is not required for our day-to-day existence and is never served alone as a food. It is used to add flavor and is thus associated with pleasure. Oil is a metaphor for the inner teachings of the Torah -- Chasidus. Study of Chasidus adds pleasure to our observance of mitzvot. Oil, like Chasidus, has the potential to illuminate. When we light a candle in a room, the contents of the room are revealed. Similarly, studying Chasidus serves to reveal not only more of our own personal potential and energy, but also helps to reveal the G-dliness in the world around us.


"In those days at this time." These words, recited on Chanukah, hint at an amazing Jewish mystical concept. The spiritual energy that was evident during a particular event is reinstated in the world on the anniversary of that event.

"At this time" we can draw on the energy of "those days."

The eight days of Chanukah are an auspicious time to wage spiritual battles against evil, impurity and corruption within and without. And certainly we will be victorious, as in those days.


The light created by G-d on the first day of Creation was not the light of the sun, moon or stars; those heavenly bodies were not created until the fourth day.

The light of the first day was a spiritual light, hidden when Adam and Eve sinned and which will be revealed for eternity in the Messianic Era. Within each Jew is a spark of this holy and eternal light that will ultimately be fully revealed within each of us, with the imminent revelation of Moshiach.


Through telling stories about great tzaddikim (sages), we bring the light of Moshiach into this world and push away much darkness and troubles.

(Rabbi Nachman of Breslov)


Finding ourselves in the festive holiday of Chanukah, let us see what inspiring lessons we can take with us to guide us in these last moments of the darkest exile.

In the days of Mattityahu, the Jews took action against the Greeks in the natural manner, but with absolute faith in G-d. Hence, they did not engage in calculations as to how great the odds were against them in terms of physical power and numbers. Rather, with faith and fortitude, they gathered the people together under the rallying cry, "Whoever is for G-d, is with us."

This was the basis and raison d'etre of their battle: the glorification of G-d's name, without any thought of personal gain or glorification.

Although they were weak and few in number, the Jews of that time were spiritual giants, possessing complete and absolute faith in the Creator of the World. It was this faith that ultimately led to their military victory and the spiritual victory over the repressive decrees of the Hellenists.

Similarly, our Sages have taught that in the merit of the Jews' tremendous faith in G-d and in the coming of Moshiach we will be redeemed from this final, dark and bitter exile.

The Rebbe, the Mattityahu of our generation, has sounded the clarion call, "The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his way!"

Although in comparison to the nations of the world the Jewish people are few and weak physically, we nonetheless reach the highest spiritual heights, for we stand atop the shoulders of the spiritual giants of all generations.

Thus, for the glorification of G-d's name and G-d's name alone, let us rally as one behind the Rebbe's call to publicize the message that the Redemption is imminent, to learn more about it, to increase in mitzvot in general and acts of goodness and kindness, and to get ready to welcome Moshiach.


One of the reasons that the festival is referred to as Chanukah is because the Holy Temple was rededicated -- after it had been cleansed and purified from the Greek idolatry -- on the 25th of Kislev. The Hebrew word for "dedication," chinuch, shares the same root as the word Chanukah. But chinuch does not only mean dedication. It also means "education."

Chanukah is an appropriate time to think about education: our Jewish education and the education of Jewish children, whether ours or other people's.

Jewish education must be like the cruse of oil found in the Holy Temple even after the Holy Temple had been defiled by the Greeks. The cruse of oil used to relight the Menorah was pure and unsullied. Its seal was not broken by the Greek invaders; they were not able to taint it with their cynicism and disdain for that which is holy.

Jewish education must be pursued in a similar manner. Whether it's learning to read Hebrew (at the age of five or fifty), finding out the whys and wherefores behind the many beautiful customs and rituals, learning the weekly Torah portion in-depth, or assiduously studying the more esoteric aspects of Jewish teachings, it should be pursued with an open mind, an open heart, and with purity of spirit.

What better time than the Festival of Lights to dedicate ourselves to Jewish education at all levels.


Yehudit, beautiful Yehudit, daughter of Yochanan the High Priest. Her self-sacrifice for her people knew no bounds. She could not stand by quietly as young Jewish girls were forced to spend the night before their wedding with the enemy governor. Quietly, stealthily, gracefully, Yehudit penetrated the enemy camp, endangering her own life, and brought back a prize for those who were not as brave as she -- the grisly head of the Syrian General Holofernes.

Chana, brave Chana, mother of seven sons. She taught them to love G-d and the Torah -- more than life itself. "Foolish woman. Tell your sons to bow down to the idol so that they may live," the soldiers told Chana. But Chana knew that her definition of life was different from that of the pagan soldiers. Her sons would die in this world sanctifying G-d's name, but they would live forever in the World to Come. She whispered encouragement to each son. "Remember that the L-rd is one, there is no other." Not one son, from the oldest to the youngest, bowed to the idol. "Abraham, you were ready to sacrifice one son. But I, Chana, a simple, Jewish woman, sacrificed seven," cried out Chana as her youngest child was killed before her eyes.

Heroines now? Yes, Jewish women of today can be heroines. Heroines who, in their own way, are as brave as Yehudit and Chana. How? Like Yehudit, Jewish women can stand up to the prevalent morality that has become accepted though it is not at all acceptable. They can say, "This is immoral, not in keeping with true Jewish values. I will fight it and I won't succumb to it, even if others greater, stronger and braver don't have the courage to resist."

How else? Like Chana they can remind their children or others around them, "The way of the world is not our way. We are here to sanctify ourselves, to brings holiness into the mundane, to bear witness to the fact that G-d is one."

And, they can get in touch with their true selves, with what it means to be a Jewish woman, with what has characterized Jews in general and Jewish women in particular for millennia -- we are compassionate, modest, kind, believing, giving, loving, caring.

The word Chanukah means dedication. What better time than the holiday of Yehudit and Chana for Jewish women the world over to rededicate themselves to exploring the ancient definition of Jewish womanhood!


The town of Bethulia, in the land of Judea, came under siege by a huge army with Holofernes, a Syrian-Greek general, at the head.

The men of Bethulia fought bravely and desperately. Holofernes cut off the food and water supply and before long the town was on the verge of surrender.

Uzzia, the commander of the defense forces, and the Elders of the town pleaded with the townspeople not to surrender: "Give us five more days to find some type of solution."

Reluctantly the people agreed. All except one. "Why do you test G-d? If you truly have faith, you must never give up your trust in G-d. Besides, don't you know that surrender to Holofernes is worse than death?" So spoke Yehudit, the daughter of Yochanan the High Priest. She was a young widow blessed with extraordinary grace and beauty. Yehudit's words made a deep impression on Uzzia and the Elders.

"What can we do?" they asked her. "Pray for us, Yehudit, and maybe G-d will accept your prayers."

"I have thought of a plan. I want to go to Holofernes," said Yehudit.

Uzzia and the Elders were shocked. "Would you sacrifice your life on the chance that you might soften Holofernes's heart?"

But Yehudit persisted and after much discussion Uzzia and the Elders agreed to let Yehudit try.

Yehudit passed through the gates of Bethulia, dressed in her finest clothes. She was accompanied by her faithful maid, who carried a basket filled with rolls, cheese and several bottles of wine.

Before they were able to enter the enemy camp they were stopped by sentries, who demanded to know who they were and who sent them.

"We have an important message for the brave Holofernes," Yehudit said. "Take us to him at once."

"Who are you, and why are you here?" Holofernes asked, his eyes feasting on his unexpected, charming visitor.

"I am Yehudit, a plain widow from Bethulia. I have come to tell you how to capture the town, in the hope that you will deal mercifully with its inhabitants."

Yehudit told Holofernes what he already knew, that the situation in the besieged town was desperate, that the inhabitants have very little food and water. Yet, she said, their faith in G-d remained strong and so long as they had faith, they would not surrender. Before long, however, in desperation they would begin to eat non-kosher animals. Then G-d's anger would be turned against them and the town would fall.

"But how will I know when this takes place?" asked Holofernes.

"I have made arrangements with one of the watchmen at the city gates to tell me of the circumstances in the city," answered Yehudit confidently.

Holofernes was completely captivated by Yehudit. He gave orders that she and her maid were to have complete freedom to walk through the camp, and anyone attempting to molest them in any way would be put to death immediately.

Each evening, Yehudit walked to the city's gates and told the watchman that everything was going as planned. "The people must keep their trust strong in G-d," she told the watchman.

By the third day Holofernes and his men were getting restless. When Yehudit entered Holofernes's tent with her ever-present maid, he asked her, "What intelligence do you bring me today?"

"I have very good news, General. There is no kosher food left now. In a day or two, famine will drive them to eat the mules and dogs. Then G-d will deliver them into your hands!"

"Wonderful," said Holofernes. "This calls for a celebration. Tonight we'll have a party. Just the two of us."

That evening, Holofernes welcomed Yehudit into his tent. He offered her some of the delicacies with which the table was laden.

"I have brought my own food and wine prepared specially for this occasion," Yehudit said. "My goat cheese is famous in all of Bethulia."

Holofernes liked the salty cheese and the strong wine. Before long, he was sprawled on the ground, totally drunk.

Yehudit uttered a silent prayer and unsheathed Holofernes's heavy sword. Taking aim, she brought the sword down on his neck with all her might. She concealed the general's head in her basket and then calmly walked to her own tent.

"Come quickly," she said to her maid. The two women walked leisurely, as they had done for the past few nights, until they reached the gates of the city.

"Take me to Uzzia at once," she said to the sentry.

Uzzia could not believe his eyes as he stared at the gruesome prize Yehudit had brought him.

"There is no time to lose," she told the commander. "Prepare your men for a surprise attack at dawn. When Holofernes's men run into his tent and find his headless body, they will flee for their lives."

That is precisely what happened. The enemy fled in confusion and terror. And it was the brave and G-d-fearing Yehudit who saved the city.

We have a tradition on Chanukah to eat dairy foods in remembrance of Yehudit's heroic act.


Potato latkes. Dreidels. Judah the Maccabee. Judith the Heroine. The Chanukah menorah. Blue cardboard boxes of all different colored candles. Chocolate Chanukah gelt. The songs, "Maoz Tzur" and "I had a little dreidel..." Clay menorahs made in Hebrew school.

Chanukah is made of memories and for memories. Taste the latkes and jelly donuts. See the candles burn brightly in the menorah. Hear the singing of the blessings over the menorah. Touch the letters engraved on the dreidel: nun, gimmel, hay, shin, "A Great Miracle Happened There."

Chanukah is a special time for family, friends and children. Chanukah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the weak (militarily) over the mighty, the few (in number) over the many.

Chanukah is a celebration of the rededication of the Holy Temple after it had been defiled -- but not destroyed -- by the Greeks. For the Greeks did not wish to destroy the Holy Temple nor the Torah; they wished only to defile them. The Greeks attempted to lessen their holiness, their uniqueness, their impact on our Jewish lives. "We too, have wisdom," they declared. "We, too, have gods. We, too, have holidays. Know that your Temple is like our temples. The wisdom of your Divine Torah is like our man-made wisdom. There is nothing particularly holy about them."

So what do you say to a child who wants a "Chanukah bush," or who wants a photograph with Santa?

The easiest response might be: "They have their holiday and we have ours -- Chanukah."

That response might be on the verge of being P.C., but it's certainly not C.P. -- Chanukah Perfect. You see, as soon as we start comparing Chanukah with the 25th of December, or when we try to turn Chanukah into the Jewish equivalent of that day, it is as if we are handing over a victory to the "Greeks."

Celebrate Chanukah in the true spirit of the holiday -- not as a consolation or a competition -- but as an opportunity to prove in our own lives that the ancient battle and victory over the Greeks was not in vain.

Light the Chanukah menorah each night of Chanukah and watch Jewish pride grow as the numbers and strength of the Chanukah lights increase.

Let the lights of the Chanukah menorah -- and all of the beautiful and unforgettable Chanukah traditions, customs, mitzvot and memories -- add their pure, holy light to the world until the G-dly light is revealed in all its glory in the Third and Eternal Holy Temple.


. . . and May this Festival of Lights
bring Blessings upon You and All
Your Loved Ones for Happiness,
for Health, and for Spiritual
and Material Wealth,

and May the Lights of Chanukah
Usher in the Light of Moshiach and a
Better World for All of Humankind.


Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat Candles

For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
or: http://www.candlelightingtimes.org/shabbos

For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.

For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).

Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ

Friday, Dec. 14, Erev Shabbat Parshat Mikeitz:

  • Light Shabbat Candles,(1) after the sixth Chanukah candle is lit, by 4:11 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 15, Shabbat Parshat Mikeitz:

  • First day of Rosh Chodesh Tevet.
  • Shabbat ends at nightfall, at 5:16 p.m.
  • Light the seventh Chanukah candle, after Shabbat ends and Havdalah is recited, after 5:16 p.m.


1. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.


  • First light the candles. Then spread your hands out around the candles, drawing your hands inward in a circular motion three times to indicate the acceptance of the sanctity of Shabbat. You then cover your eyes and recite the following blessing:

Bo-ruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom
A-sher Ki-de-sho-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Ve-tzi-vo-nu
Le-had-lik Ner Shel Sha-bos Ko-desh.


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who has sanctified us with His commandments,
and commanded us to kindle the light of the holy Shabbat.

  • Uncover your eyes and behold the Shabbat lights.

  • The time of lighting is considered especially propitious for praying to G-d for health and happiness. The prayer is readily acceptable because it is offered during the performance of this great mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles.


The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat to light the candles after sunset.

Laws of Shabbat Candle Lighting for the Blind

"Let There Be Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.

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