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Brit Chadashah

Dec. 16, 2017
Kislev 28, 5778



Gen. 41:1-44:17
[Table Talk]

1 Kings 3:15-4:1
Zech 2:14-4:7 (m)

Rom. 10:1-13


Read the Summary

Happy Chanukah!

On the Biblical calendar the month of Kislev (כִּסְלֵו) is the ninth of the year (counting from Nisan), and also one of the "darkest," with the days progressively getting shorter and the nights getting longer. Indeed, the Winter Solstice often occurs during the last week of Kislev, and therefore the week of Chanukah (which straddles the months of Kislev and Tevet) often contains the longest night of the year. It is no wonder that, among other things, Chanukah represents an appropriate time to kindle the lights of faith - and to remember the Light of the World in the Messiah's advent to earth...

Dec. 12th-20th

The Hebrew word Chanukah (חֲנֻכָּה) means "dedication" and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the victory of faith over the ways of speculative reason, and demonstrates the power of the miracle in the face of mere humanism. Although it is customarily observed as a "Festival of Lights," Chanukah is a "fighting holiday" -- a call to resist the oppression of this world and to exercise faith in the LORD.

Dates for Chanukah 2017

This year the eight days of Chanukah begin on Tuesday, December 12th at sundown (1st candle) and will run through Wed., Dec. 20th until sundown. The tradition is that on the first night of Chanukah one flame is lit, on the second night two, and so on until the eighth night when eight flames are lit. In this way we remember the 'growth' of the miracle.

Chanukah Torah Readings

Because Chanukah is an eight-day holiday, there has to be at least one day when Shabbat and Chanukah overlap (called "Shabbat Chanukah"), and in some cases there are even two (e.g., on years when Chanukah begins on a Shabbat). When this occurs, the time-saving custom is to read the maftir (Num. 7:1-8:4) from a different Torah scroll during services. During the rest of the week, the maftir is divided over the eight days of Chanukah as follows (remember that the day begins at sundown on the Jewish calendar):




Brit Chadashah

Chanukah 1
Kislev 25, 5778
(Tues. Dec. 12)

Num. 7:1-7:17


John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 2
Kislev 26
(Wed. Dec. 13)

Num. 7:18-7:29


John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 3
Kislev 27
(Thur. Dec. 14)

Num. 7:24-7:35


Rom. 10:1-13

Chanukah 4
Kislev 28 - Shabbat
(Fri. Dec. 15)

Parashat Miketz
Num. 7:30-7:41

Zech. 2:14-4:7

John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 5
Kislev 29
(Sat. Dec. 16)

Num. 7:36-7:47


John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 6
Kislev 30
(Sun. Dec. 17)

Num. 28:1-15 (m)

(Chodesh Tevet)

John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 7
Tevet 1 (Rosh Chodesh)
(Mon. Dec. 18)

Num. 7:48-7:59


John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Chanukah 8
Tevet 2
(Tues. Dec. 19-20)

Num. 7:54-8:4


John 9:1-7;
John 10:22-39

Since Chanukah celebrates the victory of Maccabee forces over the Greeks and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the additional Chanukah Torah readings are connected to the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the wilderness.

On the first seven days of Chanukah we read of the sacrifices and gifts offered by the first seven tribal leaders. On the eighth day we read of the offerings of the remaining five leaders, and we continue to the next Torah portion, reading about God's commandment to Aaron to kindle the Menorah in the Tabernacle. On the Shabbat of Chanukah we add the Haftorah reading (from the Book of Zechariah) that speaks of Zechariah's prophecy concerning a menorah. (On Rosh Chodesh Tevet, usually the 6th day of Chanukah, additional readings about the new month are recited.)

In the synagogue, on each of the days of Chanukah we recited the full Hallel (הלל שלם). In addition, the Al Hanissim is included as part of the Hoda'ah blessing (of the Amidah) and Birkat Hamazon (i.e., the traditional blessing recited after eating a meal). Al HaNissim praises God for delivering the Jewish people at the time of the Maccabees. Collectively these praises and blessings are called Yemei Hallel v'Hoda'ah in the prayerbook.

Chanukah Torah Portion: Miketz

In our Torah portion for Chanukah week, Joseph successfully interpreted Pharoah's dreams and quickly rose to political power in Egypt. Because of a severe famine in the land of Canaan, however, his brothers came to Egypt in search of food. A disguised Joseph then tested his brothers to see whether they were the same people who had callously sold him into slavery, or whether they had undergone teshuvah (repentance).

Note:  For more information, please read the Torah summary page for Miketz and its related articles. You can also download the Shabbat "Table Talk" for the portion here:

The Month of Tevet

Rosh Chodesh Tevet (the new month of Tevet) usually occurs on the 6th day of Chanukah (on years where the month of Kislev has 30 days, as it does this year, Rosh Chodesh Tevet is observed on the 7th day of Chanukah). The usual Rosh Chodesh Torah readings are recited during weekday services, though the Chanukah maftir is recited from a different Torah scroll for Rosh Chodesh. This year chodesh Tevet begins Sunday, Dec. 17th.

Rosh Chodesh Blessing

The following (simplified) blessing can be recited to ask the LORD to help you for the coming new month of Tevet:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן

ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov · ba'a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · A·men

"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Amen."

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Note: Regarding the traditional date for the Christmas Holiday, click here.

Blessing before Torah Study:

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Some terms:

  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here.
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.

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