The Eight Days of Hanukkah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights is a popular Jewish festival celebrated for eight days. The celebration starts on the 25th day of the month of Kislev and lasts for eight days. We observe Hanukkah to commemorate the triumph of Jewish people against Greek oppressors.

Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf in his article on entitled, “Why 8 Days?” explained the essence of celebrating Hanukkah for eight days. “The world was created in seven days. There are seven notes in the musical scale, seven days of the week. Therefore, the number seven represents the physical world that we can touch and smell and feel. The number eight, on the other hand, transcends the natural world. That’s why the miraculous days of Chanukah are eight. Though eight emanates from beyond our senses, your soul can still reach out and be touched by it’s force.”

We often wonder why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. Why not seven as there are seven days in a week? To answer this question, we must first know why we celebrate Hanukkah. What is the significance of celebrating this holiday?

More than two thousand years ago, ancient Jews were forced by the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV to embrace Greek customs and beliefs.  Jews were forbidden to practice religious traditions especially studying the Torah. Despite their small population, the Jews, led by Mattathias and his son Judah Maccabee revolted against the Greeks and reclaimed the Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah. They prepared the Temple for rededication. They found oil enough only to light for a day inside the Temple but miraculously, the light continued to shine for eight days.

We light our menorahs for eight days to remember this miracle and to get inspiration from the courage and faith of Jews.

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