Enter your email address to get our weekly email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life.
To view Shabbat Times click here to set your location

Shabbat, December 28, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
To view Halachic Times click here to set your location
Chanukah Day 6
Rosh Chodesh Tevet
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

Laws and Customs

Today is the first of the two Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") days for the month of Tevet (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month's Rosh Chodesh).

The Yaaleh V'yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and to Grace After Meals, and the additional Musaf prayer is said (when Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat, special additions are made to the Shabbat Musaf). Because it is also Chanukah today, the "full" Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited (and not the "partial Hallel" said on the Rosh Chodesh days of other months).

Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal and reduced work activity. The latter custom is prevalent amongst women, who have a special affinity with Rosh Chodesh -- the month being the feminine aspect of the Jewish Calendar.

Links: The 29th Day; The Lunar Files

This Shabbat is unique in that three Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and read from in the public Torah reading: one scroll for the weekly Parshah, a second scroll for the rosh Chodesh reading, and a third scroll for the Chanukah reading. (The only other occassions on which three scrolls are taken out are Simchat Torah, and when Rosh Chodesh Adar or Rosh Chodesh Nissan fall on Shabbat).

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 (see "Today in Jewish History" for Kislev 25) 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 seven lights. (In the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall; this evening, then, commences the 7th 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

Daily Thought

“They are stronger than us.” —The spies.

“They meant to say that the people of the land are stronger than G‑d. So to speak, the homeowner can’t remove his own belongings from his home.”—Talmud, Sota 6b.

They saw the miracles in Egypt, they witnessed Pharaoh and his army drowning in the sea.
They ate manna from heaven and they heard the mighty voice of G‑d and Mount Sinai.
How could they imagine any force in this world to be more powerful than the G‑d who created it from nothing?

Because they had witnessed G‑d disrupting the cosmic order, but they had yet to see Him play by the rules of the game.
They had witnessed a G‑d beyond all things, but had not yet seen that the same G‑d was also within all things.

And so now, when they were to enter the land themselves, as mortal beings with mortal powers, to conquer the land, plow the land, sow and harvest from the land by their own hands—

Now they said, “If G‑d will play by the laws of nature, we cannot win. Only by an open miracle can we win.”

These laws of nature, they are nothing but G‑d in disguise, doing as He wills and concealing His acts within a weave of patterns.
Go out into the world and you will see: He can achieve anything He desires in any way He pleases.

For in truth there is nothing else but Him.

Likutei Sichot, Vol. 4, pp. 1041-1047