A Rabbinic tip from the Rebbe to My Father-in-law

Thursday, 22 December, 2022 - 1:46 pm

In the mid-1970s my father-in-law, Rabbi Abraham Stone, was encouraged by the Rebbe to become a Rabbi at a Young Israel Synagogue in New York. Before Chanukah 1976, he sent the Rebbe a copy of the weekly bulletin he had started to publish. The Rebbe replied with an interesting note thanking him for sharing the material, and then added, “It would have been worthwhile to emphasize that Chanukah is unique in that on every single day of the holiday, Hallel (prayers of praise and thanksgiving) is recited in its entirety, something that only happens on 13 additional days of the year. Perhaps it can be incorporated into your Chanukah sermons.”

I would like to unpack this note a little and explain what the Rebbe was addressing.

First some background on Hallel. The recitation of Hallel is a Mitzvah that was instituted by the prophets. According to Halacha, it is recited on Sukkot (nine days outside of Israel), Shavuot (two days outside of Israel), and on the first two days of Pesach (outside of Israel). A truncated version of Hallel is recited on Rosh Chodesh and on the last six days of Pesach. The reason for the difference between Sukkot and Pesach is that on Sukkot the offerings in the temple varied from day to day, whereas on Pesach it was the same each day. Since there was nothing new being added, after the first day (two days outside of Israel) we revert to the truncated version of Hallel.

After the Chanukah miracle, the eight days of Chanukah were added to the list of Hallel days. The Rebbe seems to be pointing out that although the holiday of Chanukah is Rabbinic in origin, full Hallel is recited each day. This is in contradistinction to Biblical holiday, Pesach when it reverts to the truncated version after day one. What changes on each day of Chanukah that would merit the recitation of full Hallel? The number of candles on the Menorah. The notion that each day there is a new candle that was not there before, is so powerful and compelling that it carries with it the obligation of reciting full Hallel.

This demonstrates to us how special each additional day of Chanukah is. It should also serve as a reminder of how important it is to pay attention to the lessons and depth of meaning within each of the days/candles of Chanukah.

This note that my father-in-law got from the Rebbe was recently shared on a family chat. Since the Rebbe encouraged him to write and speak about this idea, I felt that this encouragement extended to his family as well. As email and blogs have largely replaced the Synagogue bulletins, I share this here with you.

Please see below for a link to dozens of beautiful photos of Chanukah @ Riverwalk by the incredible Gil Rubman. They can also be viewed at You will also find photos of additional Chanukah events.

Wishing you a joyous, bright, and warm! rest of Chanukah!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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