Rabbi Dovid Saks
529 Wyoming Ave.
Scranton, PA 18509
108 N. Abington Rd.
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
The Talmud raises this question. The answer given is that there
is a Mitzvah in the Torah that we heed the words of our Sages.
G-d invested in the Sages of the Talmud the authority to institute
Rabbinic Laws, and based on this ability, their words and
institutions had the power of a law given by G-d. Therefore
V’tzivanu – You commanded us, is warranted and appropriate.
When our Sages enacted a law to commemorate an event, it will never be forgotten, and the greatest proof is Chanukah!
Draidel- a four-sided top, used by the Jews to quickly conceal the fact that they were studying Torah, when the Greeks would spy on them. On our draidels the sides are inscribed with the Hebrew letters Nun, Gimel, Hey and Shin, standing for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham - a great miracle happened there.
Latkes- because of the great significance of oil in the miracle of Chanukah, it is customary to eat foods fried in oil, such as potato latkes.
Maccabee- an acronym taken from the Hebrew verse, "Who is like You among the Heavenly powers, G-d," which was printed on the banners of the Hasmonean family.
Shamash- In order to emphasize the fact that the Menorah is lit solely to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, the light of the Menorah should not be used for any mundane purpose (e.g. to read by). Therefore, the Shamash (service candle) is placed a bit higher than the other candles - so that if one needs light one can use the Shamash. It is often used to light the other candles as well.
KEY ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHANUKAH MIRACLE
Women are cited by our Sages for their defiance of the Greek decrees, and for being instrumental in inciting the revolt against the oppressors.
The Greek general, Elifornus, had mandated that all Jewish brides live with him before consummating their marriage. The Jews reacted to this edict with a moratorium on weddings.
Yehudis, a daughter of the Hasmonean family, insisted on marrying her intended groom in spite of the decree, pointing out that the Jewish nation could not survive if there were no more marriages. Her clever plan was to serve the general cheese and other dairy products, making him thirsty and drowsy. She then plied him with milk and wine until he was fast asleep, and used the general's own sword to decapitate him.
The general's head was displayed on the city walls, causing the Greek army to panic and flee.
Baruch ata Ad o noiy, E lo hainu Melech Ha olam asher kindishanu bimitzvosav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Baruch ata Ad o noiy, E lo hainu Melech Ha olam, she asa nissim La avosainu bayamim ha haim bazman hazeh.
To be recited only the first night:
Baruch ata Ad o noiy, E lo hainu Melech Ha olam, Shehechyanu v’kiyimanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
Wishing you a most joyous Chanukah!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and Family