why do we give presents on hanukkah

Question: is just an imitation of what everyone else is doing at this time of year. Are Chanukah gifts Jewish? Answer: The original Jewish custom is to give БChanukah gelt Б (money) rather than presents. There are a number of reasons given for this practice:
that the Chanukah lights are sacred and may not be used for any other purpose. The example given there is that one may not count money by the candlelight. Giving out Chanukah moneyБand not counting it near the Бis a way to remember and exercise this rule. When discussing what a poor man is to do if he does not have enough money to purchase both Chanukah candles and wine, the Talmud states that Chanukah lights take precedence because they serve to publicize the miracle. The widespread custom of giving Chanukah gelt enabled the poor to get the money they needed for candles without feeling shame.


The Hebrew word Chanukah shares the same root as chinuch, Бeducation. Б The occupying Greek forces were determined to force Hellenism upon the Jewish population, at the expense of the ideals and commandments of the holy. Unfortunately, they were quite successful in their endeavor. After the Greeks were defeated, it was necessary to re-educate the JewsБto reintroduce a large part of the population to Torah values. Appropriately, during Chanukah it is customary to give gelt to children as a reward for Torah study. There is also a deeper reason for this age-old custom. In his record of the Chanukah events,. Б The Greeks invaded the possessions of Israel in the same spirit in which they defiled the oil in the Holy. They did not destroy the oil; they defiled it.


They did not rob the Jewish people; they attempted to infuse their possessions with Greek ideals, so that they be used for egotistical and ungodly purposes, rather than for holy pursuits. Chanukah gelt celebrates the freedom and mandate to channel material wealth toward spiritual ends. Now, to get back to your question, it is true that the practice of giving gifts on Chanukah has been popularized largely due to ChanukahБs proximity to the Christian holiday season. As such, to maintain Jewish tradition, many Jewish families make a point to give Chanukah gelt as opposed to other presents. Your wife knows what sheБs talking about. Compare the candles. This may be the closest the two holidays come to being similar. Each tradition was born of persecution, though like the holidays themselves, the differences are profound.


Though the long persecution by the Greek and final defeat of the Syrians lead to the cleansing of the templeвand the subsequent miracleвthe menorah is a symbol of victory over a cruel, but vanquished enemy. Like Christmas candles, the menorah is often displayed prominently in a window as a reminder to the faithful. The placing of candles in the windows, for Christians, came about as a result of the persecution of Irish Catholics by the Protestant English. Catholicism was forbidden during the Reformation, and the penalties were harshвup to and including death. At Christmas time, Irish Catholic familiesвwanting a priest to visit their home and give them their sacraments (in return for a warm place to sleep)вwould leave the doors unlocked, with candles in the windows as a signal.

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