The Twelve Festivals of Messiah

Chag Haurim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)!

  1. We are celebrating the Festival of Chanukkah today
  2. The Great Light of Avinu Shebashamayim
  3. Remember the miracle of the one flask of oil
  4. The Three Blessings
  5. Blessing on the Menorah
  6. Blessing for Chanukkah
  7. Shehecheyanu (first night only)
  8. Peace be upon you! Shalom Aleichem!
  9. Festival dates, worship forms, and scholarly studies
  10. By all means speak the Truth in Love

There are Two Jewish Festivals of Light.

Exactly seventy days from the first day of the seven day observance of Sukkot (Tishri 15) is the first day of our eight day observance of Chanukkah (Kislev 25). Both the festival of Sukkot (סוכות-Booths) and the festival of Chanukkah (חנוכה-Dedication) are called the “Festival of Lights.”

Chanukkah 2017 began in the evening of Tuesday, December 12, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, December 20.

In the Jewish Calendar the eight day observance of Chanukkah began on Kislev 25 (Tuesday evening), and will end on Tevet 2 (next Wednesday evening). A Jewish calendar date begins with the night beforehand. When G‑d created time, He first created night and then day (cf. Genesis 1:5):  “And there was evening, and there was morning one day” (ויהי־ערב ויהי־בקר יום אחד).

We are celebrating the Festival of Chanukkah today:

The Festival of Chanukkah commemorates the reconsecration of the second temple by Yehudah Ha-Makabi (יהודה המכבי) after its desecration by Antiochas IV (Epiphanes). We have written twenty-four chapters on this festival (Start here: Chapter 1).

What was the miracle that happened at the first Chanukkah?

At the Temple re-dedication (165 BCE), when the time came for the sacred golden lamp stand to be re-lit, only a one-day supply of the sacred olive oil could be found to fuel the golden lamp stand. Unfortunately, all the other flasks of oil that were available for use did not possess the unbroken seal of the High Priest. Therefore, the defiled flasks that had been tampered with (whose seals had been broken or missing) were ritually unacceptable. While the priests set about the laborious, time-consuming task of acquiring and refining a new supply of very pure olive oil (a task that took about a week), a miracle occurred: The one-day supply of oil (in a single flask) kept the golden lamp stand light aflame for seven additional days (an additional miracle week).

The Great Light of Avinu Shebashamayim:

“.אתם אור העולם”

“You (Israel) are the light of the world.”

Eight lights represent the eight days of oil that burned, and the ninth is the Shamash. Shamash means servant or helper. The menorah can only be lit by the Shamash. The Messiah is the Light of the World and He is our Servant-leader. As the attendant to the light, the Shamash is responsible for lighting all others. Each of us (Israel) is called to be a light to the world (Shamashim). We are all called to assist the Messiah in lighting-up the dark places of the world (1, 2, 3, 4). For it is written:

העם ההלכים בחשך ראו אור גדול ישבי בארץ צלמות אור נגה עליהם׃

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”

הן עבדי אתמך־בו בחירי רצתה נפשי נתתי רוחי עליו משפט לגוים יוציא׃ אני ה’ קראתיך בצדק ואחזק בידך ואצרך ואתנך לברית עם לאור גוים׃ לפקח עינים עורות להוציא ממסגר אסיר מבית כלא ישבי חשך׃

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. I am Adonai [ה’-the unchanging Eternal One], I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.”

ועתה ׀ אמר ה’ יצרי מבטן לעבד לו לשובב יעקב אליו וישראל [לא כ] (לו ק) יאסף ואכבד בעיני ה’ ואלהי היה עזי׃ ויאמר נקל מהיותך לי עבד להקים את־שבטי יעקב [ונצירי כ] (ונצורי ק) ישראל להשיב ונתתיך לאור גוים להיות ישועתי עד־קצה הארץ׃

“And now says Adonai who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of Adonai, And Elohi is My strength), He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the Gentiles so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.'”

Remember the miracle of the one flask of oil:

Therefore, the first candle that is lit on the Chanukkiah—the candle that is (remember the miracle of the one flask of oil) used to light all the other candles—represents the Messiah. Our traditional chanukkiahs rightly place the Shamash at the center of the menorah, elevated above the other candles.

Each time we lift the Shamash candle from the center of the menorah we should remember that the Anointed One is first and foremost the Light of Israel (אֽוֹר־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙, Or-Yisra’el, Chanukkah) and secondly (Or Ha’Olam, Sukkot).

He is the Humble One who gave up His place of glory so that He might take on the form of a servant to His people.

For this reason we carefully lift the Shamash from its exalted place and lower it down to the level of the other candles that they too might be filled with the light come from heaven (first, within the temple-conception; and secondly, outside in the courtyard of the women-birth). Thereafter, the Servant candle is carefully returned to its place at the center of the Chanukkiah; exalted above all the other lights (candles).

Ha-Mashiach is our Holy Servant who brings the eternal Light of Adonai to live in our hearts that we (Israel) might also be Indwelt with the Light of His (Adonai Avinu) Presence. Therefore, this year when we see and feel the warm bright glow of the candles, may we all be filled with awe and wonder as we reflect upon the Servant. May the flame of the Shamash burn brightly in our hearts throughout the year and all of our lives; so that like Ha-Mashiach Melekh HaKavod we together (Israel) might one day bring the light of Avinu Shebashamayim (our heavenly Father) to all the nations, peoples, and families of the world.

The Three Blessings:

Therefore, from Chanukkah we learn that through the perfect and complete life of the Beloved Son of our Father of Mercies (Avinu HaRachamim), He the Eternal One is not only cleansing us (forgiving us of our sins) but He is also through His Spirit transforming us: making “all things new.”

So during this special holiday season:  May the Spirit of Grace (Ruach Ha-Chesed) enlighten and fill your heart with His own measureless eternal life, love and truth. Also, please remember: before kindling the Chanukkah lights on the first night (Hanukkah), Tuesday, December 12, 2017, recite all three blessings. Thereafter, on every subsequent night say only the first two blessings before lighting the candles.

Blessing on the Menorah (Candles):

ברוך אתה , אדוני , אלוהינו , מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצוונו להדליק נר של חנוכה

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir shel Chanukah. (Amein).

Blessed are you, LORD, our G-d, sovereign of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Chanukah. (Amen).  [After reciting the blessings, use the Servant candle to light the Chanukah candles from left to right (newest to oldest).]

Blessing for Chanukkah:

ברוך אתה אדוני ,אלוהינו, מלך העולם, שעשה נסים לאבותינו, בימים ההם בזמן הזה.פ

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh haólam, she’asah nisim la’avoteinu, bayamim haheim baziman hazeh. (Amein)

Blessed are you, LORD, our G-d, King of the universe who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season. (Amen)

Shehecheyanu (first night only):

ברוך אתה אדוני ,אלוהינו, מלך העולם, שהחיינו, וקיימנו, והגענו לזמן הזה.פ

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh haólam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh. (Amein)

Blessed are you, LORD, our G-d, King of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season. (Amen)

Peace be upon you! Shalom Aleichem!

Peace be upon you! (שלום עליכם‎‎) This *web-site is dedicated to the study of the Twelve Festivals of Messiah. There are Twelve Festivals of Messiah that we will be studying this Jewish calendar year 5778 (sunset September 20, 2017 to nightfall Sunday, September 9, 2018). We go off in a lot of directions but we always return to the same task, the study of the festivals; and that is pretty much all we are trying to do for now.

Festival dates, worship forms, and scholarly studies:

We are (messianic) Jews. So we are interested in reading other Jewish views and perspectives related to the practice of our faith in Adonai Eloheinu. This is why we recommend you visit the Chabad.org and Hebcal.com sites (cf. bottom of page; recommended study links). We recommend  you visit these sites so you can get acquainted with some of the worship forms and scholarly studies of the larger Jewish body.

By all means speak the Truth in Love:

You will find that we disagree a considerable amount with much of the teaching of our ultra-orthodox rabbis, however, please do not mistake our disagreements for a lack of love. We believe that with emet (האמת-the truth) there must also be present chesed (חסד-loving-kindness). Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz (late Chief Rabbi of England) wisely has said, whenever chesed (loving-kindness) and emet (relational truth, reliability) are used together chesed (covenantal love) always comes first, as if to say:

“Speak the truth by all means; but be quite sure you speak the truth in love.”

This saying of Rabbi Hertz is very similar to what Rabbi Shaul Ben Benyamin says in his writing about the kind of attitude one should maintain when one presents a difficult truth to another:

אלא נדבר את האמת באהבה ונגדל בכל דבר אלי המשיח, אשר הוא הראש.  פ

But speaking the truth (האמת-ha-emet) in love (אהבה-ahavah, deeply affectionate love), we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head (הָרֹאשׁ-Ha-Rosh), even the Messiah (המשיח-Ha-Mashiach).

We will attempt to do the same. We will speak the truth (emet). Yet we will do so in an attitude of love (ahavah and chesed); recognizing all the while the great love Avinu Shebashamayim (our Father in heaven) possesses for all the children of Israel and for all the people of the world.

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