|1. What does the word "Chanukah" mean?
Chanukah celebrates the heroic efforts of the Maccabees – their military successes and their rekindling of the lights of the menorah. After their triumph, the Jews went to the Holy Temple – which was filled with idols and in shambles – and reestablished the lighting of the Menorah.
As such, the holiday of Chanukah is not so much a dedication as a rededication. Chanukah signals us to rededicate ourselves to our core values. It encourages us to examine and recognize what we stand for. What does our philosophy and lifestyle more closely resemble – the Greeks or the Jews? Take some time this Chanukah to introspect.
Read more at: Your Inner Flame
|2. The best place to light the Menorah is:
A. Outside your front door
To best publicize the miracle, the menorah is ideally lit outside the doorway of your house, on the left side when entering. (The mezuzah is on the right side; in this way you are "surrounded by mitzvot.") In Israel, many people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah.
If this is not practical, the menorah should be lit in a window facing the public thoroughfare.
Someone who lives on an upper floor should light in a window. If for some reason the menorah cannot be lit by a window, it may be lit inside the house on a table; this at least fulfills the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" for the members of the household.
Read more at: Where to Light
|3. Who is the Greek-Syrian leader that took harsh steps to destroy Judaism?
B. Antiochus Epiphanes
After the death of Alexander the Great, the lands of the Middle East were divided among different rulers. In the north, Syria was ruled by Antiochus Epiphanies who eventually took over as ruler of the Israel.
Antiochus added the title of Epiphanies to his name because it meant, "god made manifest." In other words, Antiochus didn't just think he was "God's gift to man," he thought he was god himself!
The Greeks wanted the Jews to assimilate into Greek culture. When the Jews refused to change their ways, Antiochus embarked on a campaign to eradicate the spirit of the Jews ? outlawing circumcision, Shabbat, and Torah study. It was then that the Maccabees rose up in protest.
Read more at: Greek Persecution
|4. On Friday afternoon, the menorah should stay lit for at least:
C. 48 minutes
On Friday afternoon, the menorah should be lit at least 18 minutes before sundown, just prior to lighting the Shabbat candles. This is because we do not light any fire on Shabbat.
Further, the menorah needs to burn for an additional 30 minutes into the night.
Because of this, the candles used on Friday need to be bigger than the regular "colored candles" (which typically don't burn longer than a half-hour).
Read more at: ABCs of Chanukah
|5. What is the name of the courageous Jewish woman who defied the Greeks and killed one of their generals?
Jewish women have always risen to the challenge in times of peril. During our harsh slavery in Egypt, Jewish women maintained their belief in redemption. Devorah led the Jewish people when they battled the biblical Canaanites. And Queen Esther was integral to the salvation of the Jews in the times of Purim.
Burdened by the harsh Greek decrees, the Jewish people were once again strengthened by the heroism of a great Jewish woman, Yehudit, the daughter of Yochanan the High Priest. Faced with the prospects of being defiled by a Greek soldier before her wedding, Yehudit fed the Greek general cheese and wine until he became intoxicated. She cut off his head, which was then hung on the walls of the city. The Greek army fled, and the Jewish people gained hope that they could eventually win the day.
To commemorate this event, many people have the custom to eat cheese dishes on Chanukah.
Read more at: Yehudit and the Decree
|6. According to Jewish law, how many gifts must be given during the holiday of Chanukah?
A. 0 presents
Everyone loves to receive gifts. Every parent will tell you that it is a great joy to watch a child's eyes light up as he tears through wrapping paper to discover a toy that he's been wanting for ages.
Gifts are great. It's just that they don't have any particular significance on Chanukah. In fact, if no one gives or receives even one present on Chanukah, they have not omitted anything central to the holiday
Chanukah represents the triumph of eternal Jewish values, but ironically, the commercial influence of society has obscured some of the holiday's meaning.
See a short film on this topic: 'Twas the Night Before Chanukah
|7. The preferred arrangement of a menorah is where the candles:
D. All of the above
The reason that the lights should stand in a straight line, be at the same height, and be separated by 2 cm is so that onlookers can easily distinguish what night of Chanukah it is, and also so that the lights should not appear like a torch, which is not valid.
Therefore, one should not use a modern design menorah whose branches are in a staggered position or of differing heights.
Read more at: Menorah, Oil and Wicks
|8. Jews who assimilated into Greek culture were called:
The Greeks were different from other empires. They didn't want your land, your resources or your riches. They wanted your mind. They wanted you to become enamored with Greek arts, beauty, and perfection of the physical.
This was attractive to many Jews in urban centers, who became Hellenists and took on Greek names and fashions.
This launched a war on two fronts: First, the Maccabees had to fight the invading Greek army. But the real foes of the loyal Jews were the Hellenists in their midst.
Read more at: Greece - The Dark Side
|9. How many branches did the Menorah in the Holy Temple have?
The Menorah in the Temple had seven branches: six outer lamps, which all faced the seventh center stem.
The Menorah's six outer branches represent the six realms of secular knowledge – physics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, music and mathematics. But the Torah is telling us that society cannot rest on knowledge alone. Unless this information is focused and directed toward the center stem – symbolizing God, Torah and spirituality – then this wisdom is for naught. Or worse, it is destructive.
Further, God commanded that the Menorah be fashioned from a single brick of gold – because all wisdom works together in creating a holy and peaceful world.
Read more at: Knowledge vs. Wisdom
|10. What do the four Hebrew letters on the dreidel (nun, gimmel, hey, shin) stand for?
B. A great miracle happened there
The letters (nun, gimmel, hey, shin) spell out the Hebrew words of Nes Gadol Haya Sham – A great miracle happened there.
What is the significance of the dreidel?
During the time of the Maccabees, Jews were imprisoned for the "crime" of studying Torah. While in jail, these Jews would gather together to play dreidel. Under the guise of idling away their time, they'd engage in Torah discussions and thus defy the enemies of Judaism.
Until today, the "game of dreidel" reminds us of our eternal defiance of anyone who tries to stand between a Jew and the Torah.
Read more at: Dreidel Secrets
|11. Who is allowed to say a blessing on the lights of Chanukah?
D. All of the above
One of the major themes of Chanukah is the concept of "publicizing the miracle." Ideally, we light the menorah just outside our front door, or at least in a window facing the street.
If someone did not light his own menorah, he should still say the blessing ("on the miracles that were done for our ancestors") upon seeing the candles burning in someone else's window. This gives each and every Jew the opportunity to connect to the spark of Jewish identity that he has inside.
Read more at: Publicizing Miracles