Hanukkah is a festive holiday that celebrates the victory of the ancient Israelites over their Greek-Syrian overlords. It is celebrated by Jews throughout the world and is a time of joy and reflection. But what does Hanukkah symbolise? Symbolic of religious freedom, of a miraculous event, and of the Maccabees, Hanukkah is a holiday with deep historical and spiritual significance.
The Maccabees were an ancient Jewish warrior family who led a successful uprising against the oppressive Greek-Syrian Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. They were pitted against overwhelming odds and won a miraculous victory, celebrated today as Hanukkah. The Maccabees were fighting for religious liberty – as the Seleucids had attempted to force all of their subjects to abandon their religious beliefs and adopt those of the Greek gods. For the Maccabees, victory meant being able to worship the Jewish God without fear of punishment.
The struggle for religious freedom resonates with many modern Jews, who remember the Holocaust and the genocides of other populations. To this day, Hanukkah celebrates religious freedom and honours the memory of those who fought for it.
Miracle of Lighting the Menorah
In the Holy Temple, the Menorah was lit each day with synethetic wicks made of linen, with pure olive oil specially sanctified for its use. When the Maccabees reclaimed the Holy Temple, they were able to replace the defiled altar but were only able to find enough holy oil to last for one day only. Miraculously, this small flask of oil kept the fires of the Menorah burning for eight days, until more pure oil was obtained.
This miracle of Hanukkah is celebrated with the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah, which is lit from right to left, beginning with one candle. Each night, an additional candle is added until all eight candles are burning brightly. The Menorah is placed at the entrance of the house and is said to draw divine blessings into the home.
Maccabees – Heroes of Hanukkah
The Maccabees, the heroes of Hanukkah, are remembered for their bravery, self-sacrifice and commitment to their religion. They were led by the Judah Maccabee and his brothers, who fought against all odds for religious freedom. The Maccabees’ courage and devotion to their faith moved them to action against a formidable enemy and ultimately led to their victory and freedom.
The Maccabees are celebrated every year at Hanukkah for their bravery, commitment and endurance in the face of great opposition. As modern Jews, we can look to their example of service and commitment to their faith and the values of freedom, justice, and peace that they defended.
Hanukkah is a festival of light, freedom and courage. Its celebration of religious freedom and miraculous victory of the Maccabees highlights the importance of standing up for justice, religious expression and human rights. The lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah, the Maccabees’ bravery and the miraculous oil signify hope and strength, and the enduring message of freedom for all of humanity.
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Last update 2023-11-27. Price and product availability may change.