Saturday, December 20, 2008

From Generation to Generation, Happy Chanukah


We celebrate Chanukah and Christmas in our house. My son, who is now 19, loves this arrangement. Lots of presents coming from a variety of family and dear friends, 8 nights of Chanukah, a beautiful Christmas tree. Seriously, he has meshed the two in his heart, and I pray he will pass this wonderful tradition of the Festival of Lights on to his children as well. Here is the Chanukah story:

About 2200 years ago, Greek kings, who reigned from Damascus, ruled over the land of Judea and the Jews living there. One Greco-Syrian King, Antiochus Epiphanes, forbade the Jewish people from praying to their God, practicing their customs, and studying their Torah. Antiochus forced the Jews to worship the Greek gods. It is said that he placed an idol of the Greek God Zeus on the alter in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. In response to this persecution, Judah Maccabee and his four brothers organized a group of resistance fighters known as the Maccabees. They fought against paganism and oppression.

The tenacity of the rebels, which came from their steadfast faith in one God, is one reason this military victory has been so celebrated by Jews in future generations. In one battle near Beit Horon, Judah's small army is intimidated by the size of the enemy army and Judah tells them to have faith that God is on their side:

"But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said unto Judah: 'What? shall we be able, being a small company, to fight against so great and strong a multitude? ...' And Judah said: 'It is an easy thing for many to be shut up in the hands of a few, and there is no difference in the sight of Heaven to save by many or by few; for victory in battle standeth not in the multitude of an host, but strength is from Heaven. They come unto us in fullness of insolence and lawlessness, to destroy us and our wives and our children, for to spoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. And He Himself will discomfort them before our face; but as for you, be yet not afraid of them." (The First Book of Maccabees)

Against great odds, after three years of fighting, the Maccabees succeeded to drive the Greco-Syrians out of Judea. Hanukkah proclaims the message of the prophet Zachariah: "Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit." Chapter 4:6

The Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They cleaned the Temple, removing the Greek symbols and statues. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they rededicated it. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev in 164 BCE, the Temple was purified and rededicated. According to tradition, when the Maccabees entered the Holy Temple, they discovered that the Greco-Syrians had defiled the oil which was used to Temple's menorah. Only one vat of purified oil remained - enough for only one day. It would take the Jews a week to process more purified oil. Then a miracle occurred. The Maccabees lit the menorah and it burned for not one, but eight days, by which time the new, purified oil was ready. This is why the Hanukkah Menorah has eight candles (not including the shamash candle used to light the others) and one reason why Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days.

25 comments:

Kim said...

I didn't know the history of Chanukah...
thanks for this illuminating story Amy ....
I hope you and your family have a beautiful double celebration this week :))

storybeader said...

thanks for giving us Chanukah story with all this Christmas cheer. We, too, light the candles, and have a Christmas tree (though it's hard to find memorah candles in Oklahoma!)

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Kim, it's a wonderful story..the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days and 8 nights...got to love those Maccabee brothers!!! Thank you for your good wishes for the double celebration, and throw my birthday in on the 26th...oh way too much excitement...it's been snowing now since FRIDAY!!!

Storybearer, a Happy Chanukah to you and Merry Christmas...hmmm...candles...:)))

Cindy said...

Thanks for the story!
Happy Chanukah.

MamaFlo said...

Thank you for reminding those of us that are not Jewish about the Jewish Traditions, they are indeed beautiful and meaningful.

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Thank you Cindy...I love Chanukah, and lighting the candles...very sobering!

Mama Flo...so glad you left a comment and took the time to read the wonderful story of Chanukah. Yes, the traditions, this tradition is very beautiful and meaningful as well! Merry Christmas to you!!!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Happy Hanukkah, Amy!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Happy Chanukah to you too, Susan Helene Gottfried!

Triz Designs said...

Happy holidays Amy!!! thank you for sharing the hannuka story, it's been a while since I read it :-) and thank you so much for your lovely comments and warm words you left yesterday! i really appreciate it!!! have a wonderful holiday season and a reall happy and prosperous new year!!!!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Triz, like I said to Kim, you just have to love those Maccabee brothers...it's a great story and I'm glad that we still celebrate this most joyful festival..the story of the anniversary of your's cousins' fateful flight was on the news last night and I think how small this world really is, as I AM now touched in a personal way by knowing you. I pray blessings for you and your gorgeous son as you celebrate Chanukah, good health and prosperity w/ the New Year!!!

Matt said...

Amy, I agree with the others. I didn't know the story of Chanukah and, having read your post, I think it is a wonderful story and a great reason for celebration. Thank you for sharing it. I wish you and yours a very Happy Chanukah and a very Merry Christmas.

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Hey Matt...it is a wonderful story...reading it over and over, I think that, sadly w/ so many wars being fought today, we can almost sense and see what the Maccabee band of brothers was up against...their story has become relatable, if you will...a great celebration for sure. I am so glad that you stopped to read the post!!Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and good health w/ the New Year...:)

liza said...

hi amy! wishing you and yours a merry christmas. take care.

Bryan Karl said...

A very informative post! I didn't even know about Chanukah though I saw that candle figure already a dozen of times. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Thank you Liza...and again, to you and yours as well..blessings...

Hey Bryan...so glad that you now know about Chanukah and the Menorah!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well..:)))

The Muse said...

That is remarkable and wonderful!
:)
love you Amy,
Merry Christmas

Deb DiSalvo said...

Amy
Have a wonderful Chanukah and Christmas! Your cards were a HUGE hit that I sent to everyone! Thanks again.
Cheers,
Deb

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Remarkable and wonderful, Ms. Muse...AGREED...love you too...a blessed Christmas..:))

Oh Miss Deb, you always chime in when I am thinking about you...THRILLED about the cards...wonderful!!! A BLESSED Christmas to you and your precious family...love love...

Zaidat said...

Happy Holidays Amy!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Thank you Z...to you and your beautiful girls and Hubby...blessed and healthy Holidays...:)))

Ana said...

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah! May the holidays be bright and sparkling!

Purrs and Snuggles from Chica, Pumuckl and Ana - www.chica-pumuckl.blogspot.com

Amy Lilley Designs said...

Thank you Ana.. blessings to you,
Chica & Pumuckl..Merry Christmas..may your Holidays be sparkling and bright as well..:)))

Kim said...

ohhhh your a Christmas Baby Amy !!!!
it's the 26th over here...and you are probably asleep ...so
birthday hugs and kisses for your special day ...
Alexander is 19 on the 30th....hehe so it's a birthday time over here too :)

Amy Lilley Designs said...

THANK YOU KIM!!!!...I thought about Alexander...wow, right under the wire...so many, many December babies...posting some pics tomorrow..yikes, it IS already my birthday in Australia!!!

Maurice said...

Well, I do not really believe this will have success.
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