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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

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.

Laws and Customs

The eight-day festival of Chanukah begins tonight. In commemoration 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.

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.

Links:

Text and Audio of the Menorah Blessings

How to Light the Menorah

For additional Chanukah observances, see Laws & Customs for tomorrow, Kislev 25

Daily Thought

On Simchat Torah we dance with our feet, not with our heads.

We are celebrating the Torah, and the Torah is something we study with our heads. But we dance with our feet, not with our heads.

If we would dance with our heads, each one would dance a different dance, each in a different space, some with friends but not with others, some as lonesome souls.

One head is higher, one is lower, one is here on earth, the other in the clouds or beyond, and some minds know only their own space that no one else can know.

But we dance with our feet, and all our feet are here on the same earth—none higher and none lower. So now we can all dance as one, with one heart, as a single being.

Now there is no loneliness, only joy.

Likkutei Sichot, vol. 20, p. 370.