Today marks the last day of this year's Hanukkah (or Chanukkah), the eight-day Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. The name Hanukkah, meaning 'dedication', 'inauguration', 'consecration', indicates the very story from which the festivity was born: the holiday, in fact, commemorates the inauguration of the new altar of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Hellenic occupation in the 2nd century BC. Having liberated the Temple, the Judah Maccabee arranged for a new altar to replace the previous (and corrupted) one: new kosher oil was thus needed in order to light the Menorah in the Temple throughout the night and every night. The legend goes that the people could only find enough oil to last for one night; despite this, the Menorah remained lit for eight days straight. The Sages and Judah Maccabee himself thus established the festivity of Hanukkah to celebrate the miracle.
Unlike the classic seven-branched Menorah, used in synagogues, the Hanukkah menorah (also known as hanukkiah) has a total of nine branches; of these, eight branches, arranged in a straight line and each at the same level, will hold the candles or lamps to be lit on each day of the festivity. The ninth branch, called shamash, holds the candle used to light all other laps and has to be positioned on a higher or lower plane. On each night of Hanukkah a new branch is lit; it is then today, being the last day, that the entire hanukkiah will be able to shine.
Folia Magazine wishes a happy last day of Hanukkah to all who celebrate it. Hanukkah Sameach!
"Menorah of Zechariah’s Vision" by Joseph the Frenchman, illumination from the Cervera Bible, ms. IL.72, f. 316v, 1299-1300, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisbon.