Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Great Regulars: These events occurred in the 160s BCE,

and the books that recount them are not part of the Hebrew Bible. This means that the holiday of Hanukkah is not a biblical but a rabbinic institution; and as we have seen before, rabbinic decrees are of lesser authority than biblical ones.

This leads the Talmud to note an anomaly in the Hanukkah blessings. We praise God "who commanded us to light Hanukkah lights": "But where," the Gemara demands, "did He command us?" In fact, it was not God but the rabbis who commanded us to do this.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Light Advice From the Rabbis


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