May you and your household be blessed with a joyous Chanukah as you worship and celebrate our Creator YAHUAH!
What is Chanukah?
Chanukah remembers the Yisraelite victory over the Greek army in the 2nd century BCE. Greece conquered and occupied the land of the Hebrews, outlawing the Torah of Elohim and enforcing their pagan laws and culture in its place. They desecrated the Set-Apart Place (the House of worship) and profaned the set-apart altar by offering up pigs to their idols. They looted and vandalized the House of Elohim, leaving it badly damaged.
The Yahudim, led by Yahudah the Maccabee, fought back. After a long, difficult war, they finally defeated the Greeks and reclaimed their land. They cleaned and repaired the Set-Apart Place and re-lit the menorah. They removed the defiled altar and built a new one. Then, they restored true worship in the Set-Apart House of Elohim.
Chanukah, which means dedication, celebrates the re-dedication of the Set-Apart Place, the Dwelling Place of YAHUAH.
Chanukah is the Festival of Dedication.
When is Chanukah?
Chanukah is an 8-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the ninth Hebrew month (Kislev). It usually falls in Dec.
This year, 2023,
Chanukah begins 12/7
Chanukah has several themes relevant to us today:
Being a Light to the World
Never Giving Up
Restoring True Worship
Dedicating Ourselves to YAHUAH
Resisting Hellenization (& Societal Pressures)
Staying True to YAHUAH
Staying True to Your Set-Apart Self
and many more.
Creation & the Dedication
We differ from the traditional Chanukah observance in that instead of focusing on the miracle of oil, we focus on the Dedication of the Set-Apart Place.
We observe it in remembrance of the Creation.
In the beginning, YAHUAH made the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. He created the world to be a dwelling place for both man and Himself. His desire was to dwell with His people, as shown in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Chawwah walked and talked with Elohim.
However, when they sinned, YAHUAH could no longer dwell openly in their midst. He gave Moshe instructions to build Him a Dwelling Place in the wilderness, the Tabernacle. When it was complete, Moshe dedicated it to YAHUAH, and the Presence of Elohim filled the Dwelling Place. Once again, YAHUAH dwelt among His people.
The dedication ceremony of the Tabernacle lasted eight days (Wayy/Lev. 8). Seven is the number of Creation - it relates to the physical, natural world. Eight is one step above nature, the supernatural and the spiritual.
They dedicated it for eight days to show that the earth was not just created for mere existence. It was created to be a place where YAHUAH could dwell with man. The natural world is elevated to a more spiritual level with the Presence of Elohim.
We celebrate Chanukah for eight days to remind us that YAHUAH desires to dwell with us. That is the whole purpose of Creation.
And as set-apart believers, we rejoice in the fact that we are once again joined to our Elohim in truth!
We celebrate this festival with joy and the dedication of our beings to serve our Creator, the One and Only Elohim, YAHUAH Most High! HalleluYAH!
How do you observe Chanukah?
Lighting the Menorah
When the Maccabees restored the Set-Apart Place, they re-lit the menorah - the seven branched lamp that YAHUAH commanded Moshe to make. So, every night of Chanukah, we will light the menorah in our set-apart place at Family of Messiah.
Lighting the Chanukiah
In our homes, many of us will celebrate using a chanukiah - a nine branch candle holder. This is not what was used in the Set-Apart Place, but we use it in our homes as a way of counting the eight days of the festival.
Each night, we recite blessings, read Scriptures, and light the lights.
Chanukah is a fun time to celebrate our Creator with music, games, food, and family.
>> Is Chanukah a Sabbath?
No. It is not listed as a set-apart day in the Torah; therefore, you are allowed to work on Chanukah.
However, the dedication ceremony was a very important part of the Set-Apart Place in the Scriptures. Moshe dedicated the Tabernacle, Shelomoh dedicated the first Set-Apart Place, and Ezra dedicated the second Set-Apart Place. So, even though it's not listed as a set-apart day, we should still take time in prayer and study to reflect on the meaning of the observance.
>> Do you give gifts?
Giving gifts at Chanukah is allowed BUT... it is NOT the Jewish or Hebrew Christmas!
Gifts may be given to one another and to the poor at festival times to bring joy to everyone. However, the lavish gift-giving that accompanies Chanukah today is only an American tradition that developed to rival Christmas (so the kids wouldn't feel left out). If that is your purpose in giving gifts (be honest), then it may be best to refrain from it, and give gifts at another time (like to reward the kids when they've done something deserving of a special prize). Otherwise, small-scale gift-giving is allowed to bring joy to others.