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The eight rabbits of Chanukah - Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2013-12-04 20:11
Subject: The eight rabbits of Chanukah
Security: Public
Tags:adventures with the rabbit
For the benefit of anyone reading here who is not friends with me on Facebook:

On the first night of Chanukah, I saw lots of people posted on Facebook photos of their lit menorah, which I suppose constitutes one way of פִּרְסוּמֵי נִסָא (publicising the miracle of Chanukah). I wasn't originally going to join in, but then posted the following:
I'm not posting this because everyone else is posting photos of lit menoros, but, as will be obvious to aviva_m if no one else, because nobody else's features a rabbit.

[Photo of menorah and Jane the soft toy rabbit]

I originally intended that as a one-off, but then things suggested themselves to me:
It's the second night of Chanukah; that means two rabbits. (And two candles.)

[Photo of menorah and rabbits Jane and Bar-Navi]

From then on, the pattern was established. I think the following two are my favourite photos:

[Photo of menorah and three rabbits]

The candles in the above photo are larger, to be lit before Shabbos comes in, and still be burning until half a halachic hour into the night. They're actually the results of my first bout of candle-making, when I was a teenager, and are made from dental wax, courtesy of my father. As you can see, they're all different shapes. The green one is a triangular prism.

[Photo of menorah and four rabbits]

By the fifth night, it was beginning to resemble a Nativity scene:

[Photo of menorah and five rabbits]

That was my last night in Berlin, and I don't have enough rabbits at home to continue, so I asked aviva_m to continue for me:

[Photo of menorah and six rabbits]

Hmm, the left-most rabbit seems more interested in the camera than the menorah.
Seventh night - and this can only mean one thing:

[Photo of menorah and seven rabbits]

The seventh rabbit is actually a radio; that's why it has things on its toe pads.

And finally:

[Photo of menorah and eight rabbits]

I was intrigued to see what she'd use as the eighth rabbit, since she only has seven (and indeed turned down the opportunity to acquire an eighth on Sunday). Can you see the eighth rabbit? I couldn't, initially! Here's a close-up:


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Catharsis: Yin-Yang
User: miss_whiplash
Date: 2013-12-04 22:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you noticed how rife religious symbolism is with candles? I'll admit I don't know the meaning of the menorah, and from what you have written, I'm assuming it holds a similar function to a nativity calendar, but with more elegance.

I'd always thought a menorah had seven arms.

Until seeing your menorah, I've assumed candles used for religious purposes tend to be mainly white, with one notable exception. We visited the chapel in Agia Sofia on Crete and on the side there instead of the sort of candles I associate with churches were several large candles of the size and shape you would keep for power cuts and each had a Smurf sticker on the side. It was so incongruous, I remember it still.

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Lethargic Man (anag.): reflect
User: lethargic_man
Date: 2013-12-05 07:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you noticed how rife religious symbolism is with candles?

Now you come to mention it... Though all uses of candles in Judaism were originally oil lights, and indeed many people still use oil lights on Chanukah. Candles were originally prohibited, because they gave worse quality light; modern candles are made from better materials.

I'll admit I don't know the meaning of the menorah, and from what you have written, I'm assuming it holds a similar function to a nativity calendar, but with more elegance.

I'd always thought a menorah had seven arms.

The original menorah stood in the Temple in Jerusalem, and had seven arms plus the central one. 2181 years ago, Antiochus IV of the (Syrian-Greek) Seleucid Empire, which controlled Judaea at the time, tried to ban the practice of Judaism and impose pagan worship. He outlawed circumcision, observance of the Sabbath and Torah study, and had a pig sacrificed in the Temple. As told in the Book of Maccabees (and retold by Josephus), an elderly priest called Mattathias in Modiin in the Galilee rose up with his five sons in revolt, saying (effectively) "no more!" After three years of fighting they regained the Temple, and would eventually go on to proclaim a fully independent Jewish state which lasted until Pompey conquered it for the Romans in 60 BCE.

When the Hasmoneans entered the Temple, they found the ritual objects defiled; the altar had to be replaced, and all the bottles of oil had been opened and rendered impure, so they could not light the Menorah, except one small one, which would only last one day. It would take eight days to make new oil—only the first drops of oil from an olive are pure enough for use in the Temple—but they decided to light it anyway, and by a miracle the oil lasted eight days. The Hasmoneans established the festival of Chanukah ("Dedication") for eight days on the date the Temple was reconquered, 25 Kislev, and to commemorate we light eight branched menorahs, lighting an extra light each day.

That's the traditional story, at any rate; there's rather a lot more to it than that. (The story about the oil is not found until centuries later, and for many rabbis of the Talmud, the miracle of Chanukah is rather that of the military victory (which had a lot to do with the fact the Seleucid empire was in the process of collapse at the time). This article suggests the story was originally not that there was no oil, but that there was nothing to burn it in, because the Syrians had absconded with the Menorah for its value in gold. 2 Maccabees gives a completely different explanation for why this is the festival of light, and Josephus gives such an obscure explanation it's clear he knows more than he's letting on to his Roman audience.)

Many people today call the eight-plus-one branched menorah used on Chanukah a chanukiah rather than a menorah, but that's a Modern Hebrew term; it hadn't reached Newcastle when I was growing up, and I don't use it.
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