Chanukah a festival of eight days

Our latest guest blog is from Rabbi Robyn, she gives us an insight into the lovely Chanukah festivities

Menorah with candles and food

Chanukah is one of my favourite festivals – a festival of eight days where we eat oily foods, give presents, tells stories, sing songs and light the Chanukiah. It is a festival of abundance – each night we add an extra candle to our Chanukiah, creating more light and getting more presents.  There is a temptation to buy more and more, to eat and be joyous, and perhaps that explains why food waste is at its highest at this time of year as we equate joy with abundance. Yet the story of the festival of Chanukah is not only about miracles, light and abundance it is also about the miracle of making a little go a long way!  We tell the story of the miracle that, after the temple had been destroyed, and there was only enough oil for one night, the oil instead lasted for eight!  This principle of looking after what we have is vital to Judaism.

There is a commandment within Judaism called Bal Tashchit which means – ‘do not destroy’.[1]  We have a duty not to destroy or waste items from the natural world. The Rabbis who passed down our teachings spoke often about needless waste.  For example, they say that someone who breaks a vessel or rips clothes not only wastes the resources that went into it, but also impoverish the person who owns it economically.[2] And even more fitting for this time of year, another teaching says that someone who destroys food not only wastes the food resources but also costs the owner of the food money (even if that owner is the person who destroys the food itself).[3] The Rabbis understood the implications of food waste, both economically and for our planet.

At this time of year, maybe, we can find joy in the act of making a little go a long way, and of being mindful of our waste.  There is deep joy to be had in ensuring that our actions benefit those around us and our earth.  We are intimately connected to our planet and know, through the festival of Chanukah, that joy and light are possible if we are mindful of what we use and what we throw away.

Have a wonderful time celebrating this year and may more light come our way!



[1] You can read more about this commandment here –

[2] Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 32a.

[3] Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 56a and Berachot 52b.

Post tags: festive

Recycle for Greater Manchester