Posts Tagged ‘gelt’

Hanukkah Word: Tradition

When I think of the word ‘tradition’, I immediately hear Tevye’s booming voice singing “TRADITION”, in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Along with singing the word ‘tradition’ over and over, he discourses during the song:   “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to sleep, how to eat… how to work… how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl that shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, “How did this tradition get started?” I’ll tell you! … I don’t know. But it’s a tradition… and because of our traditions… Every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”

Keeping Traditions

I remember hearing a statement years ago that went something like “It’s not that the Jews keep traditions; it’s that the traditions keep the Jews.” There is truth in that statement because it’s not the only the Jews who have traditions. Some of us macro-tradition and follow the ways of our ancestors in how we carve a turkey, the ethnic meals we make during holidays or the educational institutions we choose. Some of us micro-tradition with how we launder our clothes, wear our hair or brush our teeth. Traditions not only help us order our daily lives, but they maintain a sense of family identity throughout the generations.

Tevye doesn’t know ‘where’ he received the traditions of keeping his head covered and his little prayer shawl. He doesn’t know ‘where’ the traditions of how to sleep, eat, work and wear clothes came from either. However, Tevye does know that they are expressions of who he is, who God is, and how he is expected to live in God’s design for life. His traditions bring balance to his life and, from what I can tell, Tevye’s traditions do not break any of God’s commandments. In fact, they are expressions of those commandments in his life.

“He [Yeshua] answered, “Indeed, why do you break the command of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).   “Thus, with your tradition which you had handed down to you, you nullify the Word of God! And you do other things like this” (Mark 7:13).

According to many, celebrating Hanukkah is a manmade Jewish tradition, not a Levitical Biblical holy day, and therefore should not be celebrated. Their rationale is that all traditions, because they are manmade, are contrary to God’s commands. Yet, Yeshua is clear that not all traditions nullify the Word of God. If that were the case, Yeshua would not have fit into the basic Jewish culture in which he lived: what he ate, how he dressed, where he went to school, and how he passed his mother onto John with his dying breath.

Hanukkah and the Temple

In John chapter 10, it is winter and the Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah has arrived. Yeshua is walking around in Solomon’s Porch. Solomon’s Porch was a covered area on the far eastern side of the Temple area. It joined with the Court of the Gentiles where non-Jews would come to the Temple to worship the God of Israel as God-fearers. It was in this area that Yeshua’s fellow Jews surrounded him and demanded that he reveal whether or not he is the Messiah.   This is a dangerous confrontation because they already know that Yeshua has no problem rebuking anyone when they are living or speaking contrary to the will of God. He had already chastised some Pharisees regarding the ceremonial hand washing. He called other Jewish leaders blind fools and white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones. He completely discouraged the rich young man who wanted to follow him on his own terms. And, he told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.”

If Yeshua believed that Hanukkah was only a manmade tradition that nullified the commands of God, he would have spoken up at this very moment. He would have marched over to the Altar and rebuked the priests. He would have entered the Holy Place and overturned the Temple Menorah. He would have cried out in a loud voice for all of the men and women in the Temple area to hear, charging them with great sin in their idolatry of manmade traditions. He would have reprimanded them for celebrating the re-Dedication of His Father’s House when it wasn’t in Torah.

Instead of acting like the anti-Messiah and a fanatic lunatic, he speaks to them of sheep hearing his voice, the miracles he has done in his Father’s name, and his Oneness with his Father. Whether he lit a menorah in his house or played dreidel, no one knows. But, we do know he did not rebuke anyone, including those in the Court of the Gentiles, for being in the Temple at Hanukkah.   Why?   Because Yeshua is Jewish. His own ancestral history is tied up in the miraculous victory of Judah Maccabee and his armies over the Greeks. Had the Jewish people been annihilated by Antiochus Epiphanes, he wouldn’t even be standing among his Jewish brothers and sisters. They would have all been destroyed.

God’s Son

Because Yeshua is the Son of God, the Temple is his Father’s House, the place where he spent his time instructing those in Jerusalem who had ears to hear. Had the Maccabees not fought off the Greeks, the Temple would have remained a desecrated and unholy place. There would be no account of young Yeshua teaching in the Temple nor would he have been able to call His Father’s house a ‘house of prayer for all nations.’

The Lamb of God

Because Yeshua is the Lamb of God, the re-dedication of the Altar has great significance to Israel and the world. Without an Altar there is no place for the burnt offering, grain offering, guilt offering, fellowship offering or sin offering. It is only through blood that there was forgiveness of sins and it came through the shed blood of the Lamb, not the blood of unclean animals like the pigs (Hebrews 10:22).

The Torah

Because Yeshua is the Torah in the flesh, he is the Living Word that is a Menorah to our feet and a light to our path (John 1:14, Psalm 119:105). Whether one flask of oil lasted eight days is recorded or not, it is recorded that the Light of the World stood inside the Court of the Gentiles during the Feast of Dedication revealing to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ his identity. That miracle in itself is worth celebrating!

Prophetic Voice

Because Yeshua is God’s prophetic voice to mankind, he uses the very events of the Maccabean Revolt to allude to the time of the end and his return (Matthew 24:15). There will be an ‘abomination of desolation’ in the Holy Place of His Father’s House.

It is unfortunate that the books of Maccabees are only in the Apocrypha (removed from the Protestant canon) because according to Yeshua, we need to understand the ‘allusion’ which only comes from knowing the historical events surrounding the days and times of Judah Maccabee. Without that knowledge, we could very well become part of the great deception of the end times.

Traditions, as long as they do not nullify the commands of God are not an abomination to God; they are not going to be judged by God. Instead, they define us as individuals as well as join us together as family. As part of the commonwealth of Israel, lighting an eight-branched menorah unifies Jews and non-Jews as the family of God in a stand against those who would destroy our walk of faith in the God of Israel. As we spin the dreidel, we remember how many Jewish men, women and children were willing to die so that we could have the Hebrew Scriptures, we honor “A Great Miracle Happened There” becomes our victory cry when we are persecuted for standing with the Jewish people. Because Yeshua is our Jewish brother, our Savior, our High Priest, Our King, Hanukkah becomes part of our spiritual history and has great prophetic significance to strengthening our walk of faith in the days to come.

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

Hanukkah Dreidel – נ ג ה ש

A dreidel is a four-sided top with a different Hebrew letter on each side.

Outside of the Land of Israel, the letters are:  Nun – נ  Gimel – ג  Hay – ה  Shin – ש

When the letters are put together, they stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham or “A Miracle Happened There.”

Within the Land of Israel, the letters are: Nun – נ  Gimel – ג  Hay – ה Peh – פ.    When these letters are put together, they stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Peh or “A Miracle Happened HERE.”

The ‘here or there’ refers to the miracles of Hanukkah that occurred in Jerusalem about 165 B.C.E.

The first miracle is the victory of the Jewish people over the Greek armies who had taken control of the Temple in Jerusalem and desecrated the altar by sacrificing a pig and pouring out its blood, along with erecting a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies.

The second miracle is one that has grown over the centuries regarding the menorah and the oil.  When the Temple was restored, there was only one sealed jar of consecrated oil for the Temple menorah.  It would take eight days to consecrate more oil.  Miraculously, the one jar lasted the entire eight days.

The third and greatest miracle is Yeshua, the Light of the World who stood in Solomon’s Colonnade as the true menorah of the Temple (John 8:12).

The fourth miracle is that the Jewish people survived the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes. If anyone was found the reading Torah, they and their families would be put to death.  According to the tradition, when the soldiers came to a home, if the family was reading Torah, they would hide their scrolls, pull out their tops and begin playing the gambling with a dreidel.

The Game of Dreidel

Bags of Gelt – Chocolate Money

1. Each player begins with 10 pennies, MnMs, buttons, toothpicks or gelt.  Gelt is chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.

2. Each person puts one of their gelt into the center ‘pot.’

3.  One person goes first by spinning their dreidel.  The letter that falls face up determines what the player will do.

Nun – נ – The player does nothing, takes nothing.

Gimel – ג – The player takes all the coins, candy, items in  the ‘pot.’

Hey – ה  – The player takes half of the coins, candy, items in the ‘pot.’

Shin – ש  – The player will put another coin, candy, item in the ‘pot.’

Two and three are repeated again with the next person spinning their dreidel.