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21. Purim and Chanukah - Megillah ve-Chanukah

a) Purim

The prophets instituted the reading of the Scroll (megillah) of Esther on the night and day of Purim, the fourteenth day of Adar (but in certain walled cities it is read on the fifteenth; in some villages it used to be read on the previous Monday or Thursday) or on the thirteenth if the fourteenth falls on a sabbath.a The megillah must be written in ink on parchment like a Torah scroll.b Purim must be celebrated with a banquet and by sending portions of food to one's friends and giving gifts to the poor, as it says "[To make the fourteenth day of the month Adar or the fifteenth day of it...days of banqueting and happiness] and sending of portions each to his friend and gifts to the poor".1,c

b) Chanukah

The sages instituted an eight-day celebration (Chanukah) beginning on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev in commemoration of the recapture of the Temple by the Hasmoneans. On each of the eight nights candles are lit at the doors of houses, and on each of the eight days hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited.d It is customary to light one candle the first night, two the second, and so on. The candles should be put on the side of the door opposite the mezuzah, or in a window facing the street if one does not live on the ground level.e

Sources:

1. Esther 9:21-22 a. 1:1,3,4,6,9,13
b. 2:9ff.
c. 2:14-16
d. 3:1-3,5
e. 4:1,7



 
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