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Hanukkah - A Karaite Perspective

Discussion in 'Messianic Judaism' started by HARK!, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. HARK!

    HARK! Well-Known Member

    United States
    I would encourage all Messianics to explore the understandings of the Karaites; not because they accept the Messiah; nor because they support Messianics. Regarding the Messiah they do not seem to have understanding. It's for what they do understand and their zeal to strictly obey the Torah, that I offer my encouragement.

    I posted this excerpt for the upcoming celebration (I won't call it a holiday); but I would encourage everyone who loves YHWH to download this three part PDF series to their hard drives, for reference. That, along with a vast wealth of other valuable information, can be found here: Hazzan Yohanan

    Excerpt from: Holidays Karaite should not do Part 2

    What about Hanukkah?

    Hanukkah is a Rabbanite festival that fall in December. How did it get started and what is the authority for doing it?

    “Hanukkah (Hebrew: חנוכה‎, also spelled Chanukah or Hanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may fall anytime from late November to late December. It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion.

    The miracle of Hanukkah is described in the Talmud. The Gemara, in tractate Shabbat 21b focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the occupiers had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, and miraculously, that oil burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).

    The Talmud presents three customs:

    1. Lighting one light each night per household,
    2. One light each night for each member of the household, or,
    3. The most beautiful method, where the number of candles changed each night.”
    (Hanukkah - Wikipedia)

    From this Wikipedia entry we see that this is a time to recall the dedication of the Second temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion. You will notice that this account is not from the Tanakh but instead from Talmud. So this account of the miracle oil is not even found in the books of Macabees but only in the Talmud. If such a miracle happened in their time don’t you think they would have documented it.

    Here is the account of the temple in 1 Macabees 4.

    36 Then Yehuda and his brothers said, "See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it." 37So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. 39Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes 40and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.
    41 Then Yehuda detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, 43and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. 44They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. 45And they thought it best to tear it down, so that it would not be a lasting shame to them that the goyim had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, 46and stored the stones in a convenient place on the Temple Mount until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. 47Then they took unhewnd stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. 48They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. 49They made new holy vessels, and brought the Menorah, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. 50Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the Menorah, and these gave light in the temple. 51They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.
    52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year,e 53they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. 54At the very season and on the very day that the goyim had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. 57They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. 58There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the goyim was removed.
    59 Then Yehuda and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev. (http://www.tsel.org/torah/macab/1MA4.HTM)

    From this we can see that there is no account of a miracle oil. Nor is there a command from Yehovah to light personal menorah’s for the eight days.

    “Blessings over the candles
    Typically three blessings (Brachot singular Brachah) are recited during this eight-day festival. On the first night of Hanukkah, Jews recite all three blessings, on all subsequent nights, they recite only the first two.[17] The blessings are said before or after the candles are lit depending on tradition. On the first night of Hanukkah one light (candle, lamp, or electric) is lit on the right side of the Menorah, on the following night a second light is placed to the left of the first candle and so on, proceeding from right to left each night.

    The first blessing
    Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

    (Note that the 'CH' letter combination is pronounced as 'KH') See Hebrew Transliteration.

    (Transliteration:) Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir (shel) chanukah.

    Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah lights."

    The second blessing
    Recited all eight nights just prior to lighting the candles:

    (Transliteration:) Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu, bayamim haheim, (u)baz'man hazeh.

    Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those days, at this moment."

    The third blessing
    Main article: Shehecheyanu

    Recited only on the first night just prior to lighting the candles:

    (Transliteration:) Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu, v'kiyemanu, vehigi-anu laz'man hazeh.

    Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this moment."

    After kindling the lights - Hanerot Halalu
    When the lights are kindled the Hanerot Halalu prayer is subsequently recited:[18]

    (Ashkenazic version):

    (Transliteration:) Hanneirot hallalu anachnu madlikin 'al hannissim ve'al hanniflaot 'al hatteshu'ot ve'al hammilchamot she'asita laavoteinu bayyamim haheim, (u)bazzeman hazeh 'al yedei kohanekha hakkedoshim. Vekhol-shemonat yemei Hanukkah hanneirot hallalu kodesh heim, ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtammesh baheim ella lir'otam bilvad kedei lehodot ul'halleil leshimcha haggadol 'al nissekha ve'al nifleotekha ve'al yeshu'otekha.

    Translation: "We light these lights for the miracles and the wonders, for the redemption and the battles that you made for our forefathers, in those days at this season, through your holy priests. During all eight days of Hanukkah these lights are sacred, and we are not permitted to make them serve except for to look at them in order to express thanks and praise to Your great Name for your miracles, Your wonders and Your salvations."

    Singing of Maoz Tzur after lighting
    Main article: Ma'oz Tzur

    Each night after the lighting of the candles, while remaining within sight of the candles, Ashkenazim (and, in recent decades, some Sephardim and Mizrahim in Western countries) usually sing the hymn Ma'oz Tzur written in Medieval Germany. The song contains six stanzas. The first and last deal with general themes of divine salvation, and the middle four deal with events of persecution in Jewish history, and praises God for survival despite these tragedies (the the exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the miracle of the holiday of Purim, and the Hasmonean victory).”

    (Hanukkah - Wikipedia)

    The first blessing is what one would have a problem with in that we are told that Yehovah commanded the lighting of candles. So two problems should be the commanding of something never commanded and a story about a miracle, which was not even stated in the text that is, suppose to document what happened.

    Actually a Rabbi even amits in one article that the menorah they use is related to Zorasterism.

    And what about the fact that the trees are pagan rather than Christian?

    What does that "actually" mean? Hanukkah menorahs are actually Zoroastrian. Tefillin [two leather boxes, containing parchment scrolls with verses from Exodus and Deutoronomy, one worn on the head and the other on the arm of observant Jews when reciting morning prayers] are actually Canaanite. Everything has its roots in something else. “ (How to Solve the December Dilemma)

    Also interesting is the same Rabbi admits that they don’t keep biblical, Israelite Religion. It was the people who wanted it and so the people got what they wanted.

    How should we think of Hanukkah in relation to Christmas?

    One place to start: Hanukkah is not a minor holiday. The notion that something is "post-biblical" doesn't make it one iota less significant. In truth, we don't practice biblical, Israelite religion. If we did, I'd get up in the morning and slaughter a goat instead of putting on tefillin. So what happened is, Jews, who knew they could never compete in America with Christmas, said, "Actually, there is no competition, because Hanukkah is not very important. Let the gentiles have their important day. We shouldn't try to compete."

    And so a terrible thing was done: Some Jews engineered teaching other Jews to think less of an incredibly beautiful holiday. But thank God, American Jews are very smart, and they said to their rabbis and teachers, you're idiots. We know this is an important day, and that's why it's the second-most observed Jewish event in the annual calendar, second only to Passover.” (How to Solve the December Dilemma)

    So what should we do about Hanukkah? I would say as an extra book outside of the Tanakhic can be no more required than Purim is. It is a remembrance of the rededication of a temple in ruins today. How can we celebrate it rededication, which the Temple still lays in ruins. Should it be an 8 days of mourning for the temple? That would make more sense. Can someone read the account and remember the victory? Yes. Should one exchange gifts, play the dridel, etc… It depend on how much are you trying to make this a substitue for Christmas.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  2. Aryeh Jay

    Aryeh Jay Veteran Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    United States
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