Adapted from published articles and audio recordings of Rav Mordechai Gifter

Compiled and Prepared for Publication by Malkeal Yusupov

Chanukah is considered a Jewish festival although it lacks, in its origin, all of the typical elements of a yom tov. These eight days were originally days dedicated to hallel and hoda’ah (praise and thanksgiving) for the miracle of salvation from the Greek armies. It has but one ceremonial: The mitzvah of kindling the lights. 

The lesson of Chanukah, however, has served to give to it the aura of a holiday nonetheless. The meaning of faith, the Almighty’s guardianship of Israel, is driven home in its story.  

Throughout Chanukah, Israel’s feeling that salvation comes from Above is conveyed in songs and praises. The mitzvah of lighting the menorah is soul-inspiring. The requirements of publicizing the miracle are a source of pride in our heritage of emunah.

To capitalize on this holiday, the singing of Haneiros Hallalu and Ma’oz Tzur should be conducted by the parents, displaying interest in these songs and taking this opportunity to nurture children spiritually. The story of Chanukah can be acquired in English— children should read the story and be well acquainted with the heroism of the Chashmona’im. They should be impressed with the fact that G-d’s holy priests and their religious followers had the courage to bear arms and rise in battle against the Greeks. They should be impressed with the fact that the religious Jew, the Torah Jew, is capable of coping with Israel’s national and international problems. 

One of the greatest necessities in Jewish education today is the realization that Torah is all-encompassing. Our children must become infused with the feeling that being religious Jews does not place limitations upon them. Rather, it opens up the broadest vista of life. The story of Chanukah, if learned through its true perspective, can help children understand this crucial point.

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