Odds & Ends – Chanukah Insights

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A woman who finds herself in danger should make a resolution to refrain from work for a day or two during Chanukah.
– The Ben Ish Chai

Chanukah is only mentioned once in the Zohar.

• There are no Mishnayos dealing with Chanukah, because the observance of the halachos of Chanukah was so widespread and mehudar that there was no need to write it down.

• There is a hint to Chanukah in the Torah. In the section on the Chanukas HaMishkan, there are 89 pesukim, corresponding to the gematria of Chanukah (89).

• We place the menorah on the left side of the door, as opposed to the mezuzah, which is placed on the right side, because with things that are intertwined with the outside world, we should distance ourselves (the left hand pushes away), but in our own homes we should hold our families and our home life close to our hearts (the right hand brings close).

• Chanukah has the same root as the word chinuch (education) because the best way to teach is with warmth and not all at once, adding a little more every day.

• Many have a tradition to only give Chanukah gelt, and not gifts, to avoid emulating outside customs.

Question & Answer

Why do we celebrate 8 nights of Chanukah, not 7? There was enough oil to last for that first night, so why is the first night also part of the miracle?

• On the first day, the Maccabees found the oil, which was a miracle.

• After the menorah was lit on the first day, the oil jug was still full.

• The Maccabees knew that it would take 8 days to make new oil, so they separated the one jug of oil to have enough to light the menorah for a few hours a day for 8 days, but the oil kept on burning the entire day.

• The menorah was lit outside (at that time), instead of inside the Beis HaMikdash, but the flames never blew out from the wind.

Listen to the Flames
On Chanukah, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, would tell his Chassidim, “We must listen carefully to what the candles are saying.” In fact, the message of the Chanukah lights affects the entire scope of our service of G-d throughout the year, for “a mitzvah is a lamp and Torah is light.” The Chanukah lights must be kindled after sunset and burn into the night and they should be placed “at the outside of the entrance to one’s home,” which shows that they are primarily intended to illuminate the public domain. The lights teach us that when confronted with darkness, we must not resign ourselves to it. Nor may we remain content with lighting up our own homes. Instead, we must reach out and spread light as far as we possibly can, until the public domain, too, is illuminated.