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Shabbat, December 12, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Chanukah Day 2
Jewish History

On the 25th of Kislev in the year 3622 from creation, the Maccabees liberated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after defeating the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Judaism from the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Temple to the service of G-d. But all the Temple's oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; when the Jews sought to light the Temple's menorah (candelabra), they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained. In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly to recall and publicize the miracle.

Link: The Story of Chanukah

Rabbi Avraham ben David of Posquieres (Provence), known by the acronym "Raavad">, wrote the famed hagaot critical notations to Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. Born approximately 1120, he passed away on the 26th of kislev of the year 4959 from creation (1198).

Links: The Lubavitcher Rebbe's analysis of a famous dispute between Maimonides and Raavad on the subject of free choice.
A Biography of the "Raavad"

On this date, the "Touro Synagogue" was dedicated in Newport, Rhode Island. The synagogue, named after Isaac Touro, its first officiating rabbi, is the oldest American synagogue still standing in its original structure.

Laws and Customs

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim ("the Shabbat that blesses" the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") of the upcoming month of Tevet, which falls on Wednesday of next week.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the "birth" of the new moon. See molad times.

It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.

Links: Shabbat Mevarchim; Tehillim (the Book of Psalms); The Farbrengen

Special prayers of thanksgiving -- Hallel (in its full version) and V'Al HaNissim -- are added to the daily prayers and Grace After Meals on all eight days of Chanukah. Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted for the duration of trhe festival.

In commemoration of the miracle of Chanukah we kindle the Chanukah lights -- oil lamps or candles -- each evening of the eight-day festival, increasing the number of lights each evening. Tonight we kindle three lights. (In the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall; this evening, then, commences the 3rd day of Chanukah).

IMPORTANT: Because of the prohibition to kindle fire on Shabbat, the Chanukah lights must be lit after the Havdalah service marking the end of Shabbat at nightfall.

Links:

Text and Audio of the Menorah Blessings

How to Light the Menorah