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The Twin Holidays of Chanukah and Sukkot

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As Jews across the world begin our preparations for the holiday Chanukah which begins next week, I ponder the following question. If I were to assign partners to every Jewish holiday, which holiday would be the partner to Chanukah? I think that our knee-jerk answer to that question would be Purim. After all, both Chanukah and Purim are Rabbinic holidays created in the same era, either during or shortly before the Second Temple period. But what about Sukkot? Can we partner Chanukah with Sukkot? Both holidays last for eight days. But is there anything else that connects these two holidays to each other?

First, the Midrash in Pesikta Rabati states that the work of the mishkan was completed on the 25th day of Kislev but it wasn’t set up until the 1st day of Nissan. Since the month of Kislev “lost out” on being the month when the mishkan was set up and dedicated, the month was “compensated” by having the Beit Hamikdash rededicated during Kislev years later during the story of Chanukah. How is this connected to the holiday of Sukkot? The Vilna Gaon explains that the holiday of Sukkot celebrates the time when God commanded us to build the mishkan after we were forgiven for having worshipped the Golden Calf. The work to build God’s house in the desert, then, begins on Sukkot and concludes on Chanukah.

But that’s not the only Chanukah-Sukkot connection. For example, when Beit Shammai argues with Beit Hillel and states that we should light eight candles on day one, seven candles on day two, six candles on day three, etc., the rationale for this position is that it’s “kneged parei ha’chag.” Just like we decrease the number of oxen we offer each day as a sacrifice each successive day of........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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