Friday, December 03, 2010

Channuka Fire

As you read this, the worst forest fire in modern times is raging in the Carmel Mountains in the Land of Israel. 40 people have been killed and thousands evacuated from their homes in Haifa. Today's Table Talk is dedicated to the firefighters from Israel and neighboring countries who are grappling with this epic blaze, and to everyone living there who haven't had a drop of rain since the spring.


I walk into the house on the first night of Channuka and declare joyfully, "Happy Hannuka". Yosephi (1st grade) looks up from his coloring project and says, "Hannuka, what's Hannuka? I've never heard of Hannuka. It's Channuka!"

Sounds like the makings for a dispute....

Question for your table: How many famous disputants can you name from history?

Let's see, there's

* Socrates and Protagoras
* Lincoln and Douglas
* Bert and Ernie
* Siskel and Ebert

Hmmm.... is this a decline or is it just me?

In the Talmud, the most famous pair are Hillel and Shammai, and their academies, "Beit Hillel" and "Beit Shammai".

Among all of their disagreements, the most colorful Hillel-Shammai dispute is about Channuka. Beit Hillel (who wins the argument most of the time) state that the Channuka menorah should be lit with one additional candle each night, until on the last night there are 8 candles. Sound familiar?

Can you guess what Beit Shammai say?

Start with 8 candles on the first night, then 7 and so on until you have only one on the last night.

Question #2 -
What are the advantages to going like Beit Shammai? What are the advantages to following Beith Hillel?

This video from Charlie Harary in my opinion is a Beit-Shammai video:

While this video from yours, truly is a Beit Hillel video:

Happy Hannuka and Shabbat Shalom

PS - has featured my iphone app on the home page - check it out here (you can also read all about the fire there).

PPS - Need a last-minute holiday gift? My iPhone/iPad app can now be gifted - click here: The Amazing Jewish Fact-a-Day Calendar.

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