The Eighth Day of Hanukkah

December 17, 2020 in Rabbi Fabián Werbin

The eighth day of Hanukkah is always special.

The whole hanukiah is lit: we bring more light to the world than in any previous night of Hanukkah.

The last latkes and sufganiyot of the Hanukkah season are probably on our tables, but this day holds many “secrets” that I would like to share with you.

  • The eighth day of Hanukkah is the only day in the celebration that receives a special name, זאת חנוכה “Zot Hanukkah”. The name is after the verse we read on the Torah reading of the eighth day:  This was the dedication offering for the altar from the leaders of Israel when it was anointed”
  • According to the interpretation of the “Sfat Tzadik”, when we lift the Torah we say the verse “Vezot hatorah” (this is the Torah) and we point to the scroll. On the same idea when we look at the Hanukiah with all the candles we say: This is Hanukkah!
  • Even though it is agreed that the last opportunity to do Teshuva is Shemini Atzeret, the Baal Shem Tov suggests that the final day to repent is the last day of Hanukkah. According to his view, the mercy of Gd is extended to receive those who repent until all the candles are light.
  • It is customary among Hassidic rabbis to hold a “Tish”, a special meal where the students can sit next to their rabbi on this night.
  • The eighth day of Hanukkah was the day that the biggest miracle occurred. Every day that passed, the oil was decreasing; therefore, on the last day, the Jews had less oil than any previous day.
  • “הכל הולך אחר החיתום” In Hebrew means that end is the most important part a whole. As Neilah is the closing prayer of Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabba and Shemini Atzeret close Sukkot, the eight day of Hanukkah seals the festival in its special way.
  • The Maharil, (Germany 1365-1427) in his book of customs, teaches that some Jews in Ashkenaz used to cease labor and not work on the eighth day of Hanukkah due to its importance
  • It is customary to hold special dinners after lighting the eight candles to celebrate the completion of the mitzvah of lighting every night.

Eight interesting facts about this last and special night. I hope you can pass these facts on and enlighten other people.  At the end of the day, this really is what Hanukkah is all about.

 

Chag Sameach