The feast of Hannukah 5776

Hanukka means inauguration, dedication: this festival takes place on the 25th of the month Kislev, ninth month of the Jewish year. It celebrates the dedication of the Second Temple after it had been profaned by the Greek empire in 164 bc (cf I Mac 4, 36-62; II Mac 10) ,

A midrash (Midrash Psikta Rabbati 2) commenting the first verse of psalm 30 (psalm prayed during the feast: A psalm, a song for the dedication of the House of David, mentions seven dedications since the Creation of the world until its achievement.

The first one was when the heavens and earth were created, it was with light (Gn 1,3;14-15), the last one will be the one of the world to come, and it will be also with lights ( Is 30,26); in between, the midrash notes the inauguration of the Tabernacle in the desert (Nb 7,1); then the one of Salomon’s Temple (Ps 30,1); afterwards comes the inauguration of the Second Temple (Ez 6,17), followed by the dedication of the ramparts of Jerusalem (Neh 12,27), and obviously the one which occurred after the purification of the Temple by the Maccabees. Effectively in each case the word hanukka appears.

Between the creation of the world and its achievement which are both marked by light, it is like human tentatives to settle God in the midst of his creatures and the Lord allows that humbly even if will the Lord indeed dwells on the earth (he) whom heavens and earth cannot contain? (cf I K 8,26)

Christmas and Hanukka fall both in the same liturgical and cosmic space (winter solstice). Whatever is the speculation about the origin of Christmas and the choice of its date, we are authorized discreetly to let both feasts echo each other while we celebrate the One who is the light of the world, the sun of justice ( Mal 3,20), the dwelling of God among us.

Anne Catherine Avril, nds