For the week ending 12 December 2009 / 24 Kislev 5770

Chanukah Q&A

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  1. Which miracle do we celebrate with the lighting of candles?
  2. How did they know that the oil found was uncontaminated?
  3. Who led the battle against the Hellenites?
  4. During which of the "four exiles" did the miracle of Chanukah take place?
  5. Name two non-halachic customs connected with Chanukah.
  6. How many blessings are made before lighting candles?
  7. Why do we light the extra candle known as the "shamash"?
  8. What is added to our regular prayers at least three times a day?
  9. What is the special reading of the Torah each day?
  10. Is it obligatory to eat a meal like on Purim?
  11. When do we have occasion to use three Sifrei Torah on Chanukah?
  12. What three mitzvot did the Hellenites decree against?
  13. What damage did the Hellenites do to the Beit Hamikdash?
  14. What two military advantages did the Hellenite army have over the Jews?
  15. Is it permissible to do work on Chanukah?
  16. Why is there no Mussaf prayer on Chanukah except for Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh?
  17. How does the name Chanukah indicate the date when this holiday begins?
  18. What special prayer do we add to the morning services?
  19. What did the Jews do after victory that explains the name Chanukah?
  20. Which regular prayers in the morning service do we omit on Chanukah?


  1. The oil for lighting the menorah in the Beit Hamikdash after the victory over the Hellenites was only enough for one day and it miraculously lasted for eight days until a new supply of pure oil was available. (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 1:1)
  2. Its container had the seal of the kohen gadol. (Mesechta Shabbat 21b)
  3. Matityahu, the kohen gadol and his sons. (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 1:1, and the “Al Hanissim” prayer in the Siddur)
  4. The third exile under Hellenite oppression during the era of the second Beit Hamikdash. (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 1:1)
  5. Eating either donuts or potato pancakes made with oil and playing with the sivivon (dreidel).
  6. Three blessings the first night and two the other nights. (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 1:4)
  7. Since it is forbidden to benefit from the light of the candles we light an extra one so that if we do benefit it will be from that one called the shamash because it is sometimes used to serve as the lighting agent. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 673:1)
  8. The prayer "Al Hanissim" (Ibid. 682:1)
  9. The gifts of the nesi’im (heads of the twelve tribes at the inauguration of the Sanctuary as recorded in Bamidbar 7:1-8). (Ibid. 684:1)
  10. No. But if the meal is accompanied by songs of praise to Heaven it is considered a seudat mitzvah. (Ibid. 670:2)
  11. When Rosh Chodesh Tevet is on Shabbat and we read selections for Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and Chanukah. (Ibid. 684:3)
  12. Shabbat, circumcision and Rosh Chodesh. (Midrash)
  13. They made breaks in the walls and contaminated the sacred items. (Rambam, Laws of Chanukah 1:1)
  14. They were stronger and more numerous. (“Al Hanissim” Prayer)
  15. It is permissible to work but women have a custom of refraining from work for the first half hour that the candles are burning. (Mishna Berurah 670:1)
  16. Because there were no additional sacrifices in the Beit Hamikdash during Chanukah. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 682:2)
  17. If we break up the word into two parts — Chanu, and the letters chaf and hei, we read that they rested from the war on the 25th day of the month.
  18. Hallel (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 683:1)
  19. They rededicated the altar in the Beit Hamikdash, which the Hellenites had defiled. ("Chanukah"means inauguration.)
  20. Tachanun and Psalm 20 before Uva Letzion. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 683:1)

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