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Candlelight (The Maccabeats)

Hanukkah or "The Festival of Lights" is one of the most important festivities in the Jewish calendar. It starts on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar (Dec 1-9 for 2010, 20-28 for 2011).

This holiday commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt, after its desecration by the Greek forces of the King of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 2nd century BC. After almost two centuries under the Greek rule, the Jewish were free to practise their religion and once again an independent country for a short period of time (until the Romans arrived).

It also commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil". According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication following the victory, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil. Actually, the Talmud doesn’t emphasize the miraculous victory as the reason for celebrating Chanukah but focuses on the long-burning oil as the basis for the holiday.

The festival is observed by the lighting of a nine-branched candelabrum, one additional light on each night of the holiday, lighting the eighth candle on the last night. The extra light (a raised or sunk candle in the middle) is called a "shamash" and is also lit each night just to light up the others.

This song is a cover of Taio Cruz's "Dynamite".

I’ll tell a tale
Of Maccabees in Israel
When the Greeks tried to assail
But it was all to no avail

The war went on and on and on
Until the mighty Greeks were gone

I flip my latkes in the air sometimes sayin' ayy ohh spin the dreidel
Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin' ayy oh, light the candles

We say al hanissim
Oh yea for all eight nights
Then we play dreidel
By the candlelight

And I told you once
Now I told you twice
'Bout the miracle
Of the candlelight


They took the field
The rivals thought "are they for real?"
Those Maccabees they’d never yield
They charged ahead with sword and shield

The war went on and on and on
Until the mighty Greeks were gone

I flip my latkes in the air sometimes sayin' ayy ohh spin the dreidel
Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin' ayy oh, light the candles

We say maoz tzur
Oh yea for all eight nights
Then we play dreidel
By the candlelight

And I told you once
Now I told you twice
'Bout the miracle
Of the candlelight

And the great menorah
For eight days it kept on burning
What a celebration
A great return to Torah learning

Cuz I can feel it
And Ay-ay-ay
Nes gadol, nes gadol
Nes gadol hayah sham
Nes gadol hayah sham
Nes gadol hayah sham


I flip my latkes in the air sometimes sayin' ayy ohh spin the dreidel
Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin' ayy oh, light the candles

We say maoz tzur
Oh yea for all eight nights
Then we play dreidel
By the candlelight

And I told you once
Now I told you twice
'Bout the miracle
Of the candlelight

MACCABEES= A Jewish family who led the revolt against the occupational Greek forces in Judea (modern Israel).

ASSAIL= attack, assault.

IT WAS ALL TO NO AVAIL= It was useless, they couldn't do it, it was a failure.
If something is to no avail, it doesn't get the intended result.

WENT ON= Continued.

MIGHTY= Powerful.

FLIP= To turn over or around, especially with a light quick motion (in this context he means to toss it up in the air with the frying pan to get it done on the other side).

LATKES= (Hebrew) A traditional Jewish pancake. (see picture)

SPIN= To cause to rotate quickly.

DREIDEL= (Hebrew) A toy similar to a spinning top used in games of chance played by children and adults at Hanukkah (see picture). You can read here information about the game and why it is still played in Hanukkah: About the dreidel

WANNA= (coll.) Want to.

AL HANISSIN= (Hebrew, literally "about miracles") Jews recite the Amidah at each of three prayer services in a typical weekday: morning, afternoon, and evening. The Al ha-Nissim is an addition made to the "hoda'ah" (thanksgiving) benediction in the Amidah. This addition refers to the victory achieved over the Syrians by the Hasmonean Mattathias and his sons (the Maccabees).

BY THE CANDLELIGHT= Illuminated by candles (not electric light).

'BOUT= (coll.) About.

THE MIRACLE OF THE CANDLELIGHT= Usually called "the miracle of the oil". In the temple of Jerusalem there was a menorah (a candelabrum with 8 candles) which had to be always burning. During the Maccabees revolt, the Greeks plundered the Temple and spoiled the holy oil for the menorah, making it impure and so, useless. After the victory, the Jews could only find one oil jug with the high priest’s seal intact, but it was enough just for one day. Nevertheless, the oil kept burning for eight days, the time priests needed to prepare and consecrate more oil. And that is what Jews celebrate in Hanukkah.

THE RIVALS=  The competitors (in this case, the enemy, the Greeks)

ARE THEY FOR REAL?= Is that seriously an army of soldiers? (a sarcastic question which really means "they don't look like real soldiers")

YIELD= Surrender.

CHARGED AHEAD= Advanced with their weapons to fight.

SWORD= /sɔ:*d/ A kind of weapon (see picture)

SHIELD= A defensive weapon to protect your body (see picture)

MAOZ TZUR= A Jewish liturgical poem, often sung in Hanukkah.

MENORAH= (Hebrew) A nine-branched candelabrum used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. These are actually just reproductions of the original Menorah (the Great Menorah), which was one seven-branched huge gold candelabrum in the Temple of Jerusalem. (see picture)

TORAH= The first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. But this word is often used, in general, to refer to the entire body of religious law and learning including both sacred literature and oral tradition (so the Torah is all the sacred texts and teachings from the Jews)

NES GADOL HAYAH POH= (Hebrew) "A great miracle happened here". This is the inscription on the dreidels they play with on this day.

solidiersMattithias Father of the five Maccabee brothers and Temple kohen-priest fled to Modin to escape Greek influence and pressure in Jerusalem. He began the Chanukah revolt when Mattithias killed a Hellenist Jew sacrificing a pig to a pagan god at the command of a Greek soldier. Before he fled to the hills with his sons to escape Greek revenge, he called likeminded Jews to join him in a fight against Greek oppression. He died soon after the revolt began.

Judah Maccabee – Son of Mattithias who took over the fight once his father died. He specialized in guerilla tactics and ambushes. Known in Greek as Judah Maccabeus, his name is recalled to represent the entire Jewish fighting force that rose up against the Syrian-Greek troops.

Elazar – Brother of Judah who was killed in battle when an elephant, then a state-of-the-art war vehicle, crushed him.

Shimon, Yonatan, and Yochanon – Three other sons of Mattithias who joined in the battle.

Post-Miracle Maccabees
The Maccabees went on to become heads of state. In an unprecedented move, the Hasmonean Maccabee family donned the high priest’s garments and held the royal scepter. At first the Hasmonean rulers were righteous, and Judea rejoiced in its restored autonomy. A handful of successions later, the royal Hasmonean line was waylaid by internecine fighting, assassination, and internal strife. They lived in thrall to Greek powers and later generations admired the same Helenist ideals the original Maccabees struggled against.

The corrupted Hasmonean dynasty declined in power and public reverence, and their rule ended when Herod, a Hasmonean son-in-law, seized power and killed off the rest of the Hasmonean line.

(from http://www.mazornet.com)

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