December 11, 2015
Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, December 11, 2015.
This Shabbat is the Shabbat during Hanukkah. Of course it’s a Sabbath like other Sabbath, but because it’s during the eight days of Hanukkah, there are special parts to the ritual. Hallel, or the ritual of Psalms which is recited on Biblical holidays is recited every day on Hanukkah, including on the Sabbath! On Purim, which is also a post-Biblical holiday, there is no Hallel, perhaps because the events of Purim happened not in Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), but in Persia. And during the Musaf, the additional service on Shabbat after the Torah reading, a special prayer called “Al HaNissim” (“Because of the Miracles”) is read:
We thank you also for the miracles, and relief, and heroism and victories and battles that you performed for our forefathers in those days at this season: In the days of the High Priest Mattathias, son of Johanan, of the Hamonean family, a tyrannical power rose up against Your people Israel to force them to forsake Your Torah, and to compel them to transgress Your commandments. In Your great mercy, You stood by them in time of distress. You rose to their defense and vindicated their cause. You brought retribution upon the evil doers, delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the wicked into the hands of the just, and the arrogant into the hands of those devoted to Your Torah. You made Your greatness and holiness known in Your world, and brought great deliverance to Israel. Then Your children came into Your dwelling place, cleansed the Temple, purified the Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your sacred courts, and they designated these eight days of Hanukkah for giving thanks and praise unto Your great name.
For all this, Your name, Oh our King, will be blessed and exalted for every and ever.
Interestingly, this paragraph conflicts with the account written by eye witnesses to the events of Hanukkah more than two millennia ago, according to the Book of Macabbees. However, this prayer emphasizes the conviction of the Rabbis that God, and not really the Macabbees, was the real Hero of the Hanukkah story.