Thursday, December 9, 2010

CHANUKA's Torah reading

2nd day of Tebet, 5771

During each one of the eight days of Chanuka, we read the Torah in the morning.

Now, what Biblical text was chosen by the Rabbis to be read on Chanuka and why? Let me explain the question. On every festival we read in the Tora a portion corresponding to that specific event. During the eight days of Pesach, for example, we read eight sections alluding in different ways to the Exodus from Egypt. But the events of Chanuka happened around the year 150 BCE, and are not part of the Hebrew Bible, the rabbis, therefore, had to choose a somehow related Biblical text to be read.

Our Rabbis chose the section of Naso in the book of baMidbar ('In the desert'), dealing with the inaugural offerings of the tribal leaders at the time of the dedication of the Mizbeach (altar).


1. Chanuka means 'inauguration', and it remind us that once the Greeks were defeated, the Jews rededicated the altar (mizbeach) which had been defiled by pagan offerings. This Perasha is also about the dedication of the mizbeach in the Tabernacle (zot chanukat hamizbeach).

2. The Tabernacle was completed on the 25 of Kislev. Same day we celebrate Chanuka.

3. Because the end of the Torah reading , beha'alotekha, deals with the kindling of the Menora which remind us the miracle of the oil.

4. Me'am Lo'ez explains that in addition to all those reasons, the tribe of Levi did not participate of the offerings at the time of the dedication of the altar, narrated in Naso. During Chanuka, however, they (the Chashmonaim were Cohanim, from the tribe of Levi) rescued and dedicated the altar

Chanuka and an heroic Jewish woman, by Aish

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC 130 Steamboat Rd. Great Neck NY 11024