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What is the reason for the Public Menorah?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


See the Light

For all Jewish holidays there is a mandate to celebrate the miracle. Enters Chanukah and an additional mandate is in order: publicize the miracle.

When the Rabbis first instituted the holiday of Chanukah, they instituted it with this injunction; and ever since, Chanukah has become synonymous with public display. Although the Mitzvah is to light the Menorah at home with your family, traditionally it is placed in a doorway or window, to publicize the miracle of Chanukah to the largest possible audience.

Because publicity is an essential part of the this holiday.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe initiated a campaign to further publicize this miracle. In this day and age when people spend increasingly more time outside of the home, the Rebbe encouraged Jews to bring the light, warmth, and miraculous message of Chanukah right into the public thoroughfares.

But Why

Out of all the holidays why was Chanukah selected for "Publicizing the Miracle"?

Here’s a thought: the cause for other holidays is that we were threatened, in danger, or in need. A miracle happened and we were helped. As a result of the miracle we continue to exist. Since the miracle happened to save us, it is we who celebrate.

The Chanukah miracle was slightly different. The Greeks didn’t threaten us per se; they threatened the idea of a miracle.

They didn’t mind if Jews lived or observed Jewish practices as long as it was seen as another culture, and not a Divine mandate. They didn’t believe in holiness, G-d, or miracles. So a miracle happened to save the miracle. Therefore, it is the miracle that must celebrate. 

And its celebration is having people know it exists.

So go ahead, help the miracle celebrate. Bring a Menorah to your office, display one at your Chanukah parties, and ask for one to be placed in your local mall and public squares.


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(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.