Chanuka

 

Chanukah began yesterday at sunset.

I Maccabees 4:

Then Judas Maccabeus and his brothers said, “Now that our enemies have been crushed let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.”  They found the sanctuary desolated, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt, weeds growing in the courts…and the priests chambers demolished.  Then they tore their clothes and made great lamentation; they sprinkled their heads with ashes and fell with their faces to the ground.  And when the signal was given with trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of holocausts they had made.  On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes and cymbals.  All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.

For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered holocausts and sacrifices of deliverance and praise.  They ornamented the façade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers and furnished them with doors.  There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.  Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy with gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty fifth day of the month of Chislev.

From a Jewish Prayer book: Blessed is the Lord our God, ruler of the universe, for you have kept us, sustained us, and brought us to this holy season.

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