A Tale of Two Cities

From: Allen Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that the ancient Greeks promoted good things like Science, the Arts and Physical fitness. Why does Chanuka “celebrate” the opposition to, and victory against, ancient Greek culture? Dear Allen, The ancient Greeks are viewed as descending from Yafet, the son of Noach. The name Yafet is related[…]

Lighting Left

From: Chava Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that the right side is usually given precedence in performing mitzvot. Why is the Chanuka menora lit on the left side of the doorway? Dear Chava, Many people nowadays light inside the house either on a table or in the window. But it is correct that according[…]

Hasmonean Victory?

From: Bracha Dear Rabbi, The holiday of Chanuka has a lot to do with the re-dedication of the Temple and re-assertion of Jewish independence from the Greeks. But although we’re told why the first and second Temples were destroyed, I am not aware of what happened after the Hasmonean liberation such that the Romans ended[…]

Those Days, This Time

From: Michal Dear Rabbi, On Chanuka we recite the blessing which praises G‑d for “performing miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.” Please remind me what’s particular about reciting “at this time”. Also, as far as I remember, the Sages didn’t actually decree observance at the time of the miracle, but rather[…]

The Last Day of Chanuka

From: Adrian Dear Rabbi, Is the observance of the eighth day of Chanuka related to the way in which outside of Israel festivals are observed for two days? Dear Adrian, This is an interesting suggestion. But although the day is certainly a special day, for reasons I’ll write below, it doesn’t seem to be for[…]

Seven Days or Eight?

From: Tami Dear Rabbi, I’ve heard a question about how many days Chanuka should be – since the oil burning the first day wasn’t a miracle, we should really only light for seven days. But I don’t remember the answer. Could you please “illuminate” this for me? Thanks “a latkes”. Dear Tami, A good question[…]

Menora Meaning

From: Glenda Dear Rabbi, Could you please comment on the relationship between the Menora of the Temple and the menora of Chanuka? I know there are differences, but I can’t help from feeling there are similarities as well. Dear Glenda, One of the reasons that the Chanuka menora is so beloved is that it is[…]

Chanuka Gelt

From: Michal Dear Rabbi, My husband and I are not really sure what’s appropriate gift-giving for Chanuka. Clearly the kids will be there when we light the menorah every night, we’ll tell them about Chanuka, and get them some books. But are they supposed to get gifts/gelt/how often/how many?  What’s too much and what’s too[…]

Might or Light?

From: Matthew Dear Rabbi, Why do the traditional sources seem to downplay the military aspect of Chanuka and focus more on the theme of oil and light? Dear Matthew, Clearly, one of the main reasons for establishing Chanuka as a festival for all Jews in all generations was to commemorate the miraculous military victory of[…]