In the first year of rule of Cyrus, the King of Persia, Jews were given permission to return to Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple. A group of Jews led by Zerubavel set out for Jerusalem and began working on the second Temple. However, the Cutheans falsely accused the Jews of plotting a rebellion against King Cyrus and were successful in halting the construction of the Holy Temple for the remainder of his reign and throughout the reign of Ahasuerus, his successor. Construction resumed in the second year of the reign of Darius, Ahasuerus's son, on the 24th of Kislev.
The eight-day festival of Chanukah begins tonight. In commemorartion of the miracle of the oil (see "Today in Jewish History" for Kislev 25) we kindle the Chanukah lights -- oil lamps or candles -- each evening for eight days, increasing the number of lights each evening. Tonight, the first night of Chanukah, we kindle one light. (In the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall; this evening, then, commences the 1st day of Chanukah).
On the 1st night of Chanukah, we recite three blessings before lighting; for text and audio of the blessings, click here.
For a more detailed guide to Chanukah lighting click here.
The lights—which ideally should be kindled soon after sunset—must burn for at least half an hour after nightfall. Learn more about the proper lighting time here.
For additional Chanukah observances, see Laws & Customs for tomorrow, Kislev 25.
Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities . . . (Deuteronomy 16:18)
Think of yourself as a city. You have four magical gates: the Gate of Seeing, the Gate of Listening, the Gate of Imagining and the Gate of Speaking.
Magical gates, because an Infinite G‑d enters your finite city through these gates. An infinite G‑d who cannot be squeezed within any place or boxed within any definition, but chooses to dress neatly in a wisdom called Torah—and these are your gates by which wisdom may enter.
That is why all the world competes to storm those gates. They want you to see the ugliness they see, hear the cacophony they hear, imagine the nonsense they imagine and speak without end. And then, you will desire all they desire and no room will be left in your city for that Infinite G‑d.
You only need master those gates and the city is yours.