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Eight  are the Days Before a Bris

12/15/2017 12:10:29 PM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Hanukkah is the only holiday that lasts 8 days, inside and outside of Israel. Even the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, we are taught, is considered a holiday unto itself and not the eighth day of Sukkoth. Our tradition is replete with explanations for why Hanukkah lasts eight days and what the celebration is all about.

Some say we celebrate the miracle of Rabim b’yad me’atim - “many given over to the few,” recalling the miraculous victory over the mighty Greek army. Indeed, the feat could not have been achieved without Divine protection. But then, why do we celebrate it for eight days?

Perhaps we are celebrating the Hanukat Hamizbeach  - “rededication of the alter and the vessels,” which took eight days.

Or, maybe eight is for the miracle of the Nes Pah HaShemen - “miracle of the single jug of oil,” which lasted for eight days.

Perhaps it's because there are at least eight valid spellings of Hanukkah: Chanukah, Hanukah, Hanukka, Hannukah, Hannuka, Channukah Channukkah... Probably not.

My favorite reason why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days is because the whole story is emblematic of the covenant (Brit) between God and His people. All the miracles that took place, from the military victory to the resanctification of the sanctuary and kindling of the menorah, are evidence of God’s power in the world and in our lives.

How many times have you overcome impossible odds? How often do you recognize that the very fact you are sitting here now reading these words is truly amazing and is nothing short of miraculous. How can you explain the existence of the State of Israel and the vitality of world Jewry after thousands of years of continued persecution?

On the eighth day of life, we celebrate the Brit Milah. Eight represents the covenant between the Jewish people and our Creator and the bris symbolizes our acceptance of its terms. Eight underscores our belief that God helps us to overcome overwhelming opposition each and every day, as He did for our ancestors in those days.

May God continue to bless us and sustain us and deliver us to enjoy the big and the small miracles, this Hanukkah and everyday.

Shabbat Shalom & Hanukkah Sameach!

Rabbi Suson

Mon, May 25 2020 2 Sivan 5780