The topic of Chanukah does not have its own tractate in the Talmud, rather it is included in Maseches Shabbos. Why doesn’t Chanukah have its own complete tractate, from beginning to “end”, like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Purim, and Pesach? The students of the Baal Shem Tov explain that the essence of Chanukah is learning Hashem’s Torah and doing Hashem’s mitzvos, which will not be complete until Moshiach comes.

The Yomim Tovim are usually celebrated in very physical, tangible ways. On Pesach we eat matzah, on Sukkos we sit in a sukkah and shake a lulav and esrog, on Simchas Torah we dance with the Torah. It’s only on Chanukah that we celebrate with intangible, almost spiritual, symbols – fire and light. According to the Baal HaTanya, this is because the Greeks fought against our fire and our spiritualty, as it says, “ner mitzvah V’Torah ohr”.

Where do we find a hint in the Torah about Chanukah?

In the story of Yehudah and Tamar, about three months after their encounter, Yehudah said, “Take her out to be burned.” About three months after Rosh Hashanah, we take the candles out to be burned. The Talmud relates that Rabi Yehudah rules that if a store keeper kindled Chanukah candles outside his storefront and a laden donkey caught fire, the storekeeper is not liable, because he has permission from the Torah to take out the candles and light them on Chanukah.

The Imrei Emes of Gur says that about three months after Chanukah, once again, we need to “take out to be burned”, but this time it is the chometz and once again its Rabi Yehudah in the Talmud that rules that the only way to really destroy chometz is through burning it.

Rabbi Chaim Fogelman is a member of the OK Kosher Vaad HaKashrus.