In Channukkà we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the small cruet of oil. In this unit, we will talk about what a miracle is and the tension between human actions and relying on the miracles of Heaven.

Unità Età : 12-14


[We also thank you] for the miracles, the redemption, the mighty deeds and the battle victories you did for our ancestors in those days, in this time.

In the days of Mattityahu son of Yochacnan, the High Priest the Hasmonean and his sons, the evil kingdom of the Greeks rose up against Your people, Israel, to make them forget Your Torah and to force them to transgress the statutes of Your will. It was then that You, in Your great compassion, rose up with them in the moment of their suffering. You have espoused their cause, you have judged their request, and you have avenged their wrong. You have delivered the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the arrogant into the hands of those who were busy studying Your Torah. You have made Your name great and known in the world and for your people Israel you have accomplished a great salvation and redemption up to these days.

Translated from the  Koren Siddur
עַל הַנִּסִּים וְעַל הַפֻּרְקָן וְעַל הַגְּבוּרוֹת וְעַל הַתְּשׁוּעוֹת וְעַל הַנִּפְלָאוֹת וְעַל הַנֶּחָמוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ לַאֲבה.
וְאַתָּה, בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, עָמַדְתָּ לָהֶם בְּעֵת צָרָתָם: רַבְתָּ אֶת רִיבָם דַּנְתָּ אֶת דִּינָם נָקַמְתָּ אֶת נִקְמָתָם מָסַרְתָּ גִבּוֹרִים בְּיַד חַלָּשִׁים וְרַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים וּטְמֵאִים בְּיַד טְהוֹרִים וּרְשָׁעִים בְּיַד צַדִּיקִים וְזֵדִים בְּיַד עוֹסְקֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ וּלְךָ עָשִׂיתָ שֵׁם גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ בְּעוֹלָמָךְ וּלְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשִׂיתָ תְּשׁוּעָה גְדוֹלָה וּפֻרְקָן כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה .

Let’s light these lights for the miracles and wonders, the salvations and victories you have accomplished for our ancestors in our day in this time.

What is Channukkà […]

When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary they desecrated all the oils that were in the Sanctuary. And when the Hasmonean monarchy got the better of them and won the victory over them, they sought and found only a cruet of oil that was sealed with the seal of the High Priest, which had been saved from the Greeks. And there was enough oil to light the menorah for just one day. A miracle happened and it was enough to light the menorah for eight days. The following years, the Sages instituted these days as holidays, with prayers of praise and thanksgiving

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat Treatise 21b

ndamentali per la programmazione

domande essenziali

  • How do our beliefs, ethics or values ​​influence the behavior of different peoples?

domande di contenuto collegate alle domande essenziali

  • What is a miracle? (What kinds of miracles are there? Does a miracle necessarily have to be something Divine?)
  • Is it right to rely on miracles?
  • Does belief in miracles diminish our responsibility?

background per l’insegnante

A miracle is a situation in which something unusual and unexpected happens, contrary to the laws of nature. Generally, miracles are associated with a spiritual and supernatural force, such as God. This unexpected intervention into the world leads to salvation, healing, victory and more....

leggi ancora

A miracle is a situation in which something unusual and unexpected happens, contrary to the laws of nature. Generally, miracles are associated with a spiritual and supernatural force, such as God. This unexpected intervention into the world leads to salvation, healing, victory and more. In the Jewish tradition, there is sometimes a distinction between revealed miracles and hidden miracles. A revealed miracle includes a supernatural event, such as the parting of the Red Sea. Hidden miracles are found in situations that take place according to the rules of nature, but which are traditionally attributed to God, such as the daily functioning of a healthy human body or a particular chain of events. The relationship between miracles and the laws of nature has been explained in various ways by commentators. According to Maimonides,

The Sages have established that, despite the fact that miracles can happen, individuals must not put themselves in dangerous situations, counting on a miracle to come and save them. It can be objected that the rule of not depending on miracles is not only a negative precept – do not put yourself in danger – but also sanctions the principle that the individual must take an active role in the world to save himself, protect his health and so on. away rather than counting on a miracle to happen to him.

Secondo quanto riporta il Libro dei Maccabei e altre fonti, nel 167 eV Antioco IV, re del regno seleucide, emanò decreti contro la pratica dell’Ebraismo in Terra di Israele, che a quell’epoca era sotto il suo controllo. Egli conquistò il Tempio e vi installò una statua della divinità greca Zeus. Gli Ebrei, sotto la guida dei Maccabei, indissero una ribellione che, alla fine, sfociò nell’istituzione di un regno indipendente ebraico nella Terra di Israele. Nel corso di questa ribellione, i Maccabei riconquistarono il Tempio, lo purificarono, tolsero tutto tutti gli altari pagani e lo prepararono per il servizio divino. Accesero la menorà del Tempio e, per otto giorni, festeggiarono l’inaugurazione (chanukà) del Tempio e il suo ritorno in mani ebraiche. Per ricordare il miracolo della vittoria dei pochi sui molti, i Maccabei stabilirono che si celebrasse una festività per otto giorni: la festa di Channukkà.

Nel Talmud babilonese, che fu scritto molti anni dopo la rivolta, si parla per la prima volta di un miracolo in più che si celebra a Channukkà: il miracolo della piccola ampolla di olio. Secondo la descrizione del Talmud (Trattato Shabbat 21b), i ribelli riuscirono a trovare una piccola ampolla di olio non contaminato, sufficiente per accendere la menorà solo un giorno. Nonostante il fatto che ci fosse olio a sufficienza per un solo giorno, accadde un miracolo e questa piccola quantità di olio durò otto giorni.

Noi ricordiamo questo miracolo accendendo i lumi di Channukkà per otto giorni. Dopo l’accensione dei lumi, si usa recitare Hanerot Halalu, per sottolineare il rapporto tra l’accensione dei lumi e i miracoli. Per tutti gli otto giorni di Channukkà, si aggiunge la preghiera Al Hanissim sia alla preghiera della Amidà che alla benedizione dopo i pasti. In Al Hanissim ricordiamo il miracolo della vittoria dei Maccabei, ma non il miracolo dell’ampolla dell’olio. Le differenze tra i due miracoli sono collegate, tra le altre cose, a due diversi modi di comprendere i miracoli. Mentre il miracolo della piccola ampolla d’olio era un miracolo rivelato e divino che andava oltre alle regole della natura e non richiedeva alcun intervento umano, il miracolo della vittoria dei Maccabei era un miracolo che non trasgrediva necessariamente le regole della natura; comportò l’ingente attività degli esseri umani, compresi coloro che combatterono sul campo; la decisione di considerare questa vittoria come un miracolo è una questione di fede.

apertura opzionale
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suggerimenti per attività
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  • Tell students about some amazing events (You can take examples from the Torah, history, or personal life). Ask students whether each of these events is a miracle or not. How do we define a miracle? This activity can be done in small groups of three or four students, where each group decides if each of the events is a miracle. Afterwards, a representative from each group can present the conclusions to the whole class.
  • Listen to the  HaNerot Halalu recording .
  1. Explain in your words what a miracle is, what characterizes a miracle, and how we can determine whether a particular event is a miracle or not. Do you think unexpected and significant coincidences are miracles?
  2. The sources presented in this unit include several stories in which descriptions of a miracle that occurred in the days of the Maccabees appear. What is the miracle in each story? In which story is the miracle clearer? What makes the miracle of the other story less clear? Do you think miracles are actually described in both stories?
  3. Spiega i due tipi di miracoli: i miracoli manifesti e i miracoli nascosti (Vedi Background per l’insegnante). Pensa a ognuno dei miracoli che celebriamo a Channukkà. Di che tipo di miracolo si tratta?
  4. According to the Al Hanissim prayer, what should we have expected to happen in the battle between the Greeks and the Maccabees? Because? How could victory be described without a miracle?
  5. In the Book of Maccabees, which chronicles the battles of the War, the Maccabees are said to have acted alone to achieve victory. Why do you think they didn’t just wait for a miracle?
  6. Despite believing in miracles and divine intervention, the Sages have determined that we should not rely on miracles. What do you think they meant by this and why do you think they established this rule?
  7. What is your personal inclination – would you rather wait for surprise outside help or act alone? Because?
  8. Do you think miracles really happen? If so, why? If not, why do you think people believe in miracles?
  9. Can we rely on a miracle and act while taking responsibility at the same time? If so, explain how this can be done.
  10. When you don’t believe that no outside help is coming, you can feel overwhelmed or alone. On the other hand, one can also experience a sense of power, autonomy and capacity. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches: rely on a miracle or act alone? What advice would you give to someone who prefers to rely on miracles? What advice would you give to someone who prefers to act alone?
  11. Our Sages teach: “Whoever sees a place where miracles have been performed for the Jewish people says: ‘Blessed is God who performed miracles for our ancestors in this place'” (Mishna, Treatise Berachot 9: 1).
    Why do you think we are asked to say a blessing about a miracle that was performed for someone else in the past and not just the miracles that are performed for us?
  • In Channukka, it is right to share stories of personal miracles. Divide students into small groups or pairs and ask them to share stories of miracles they experienced or people close to them. They could be natural “miracles”, like a surprising coincidence. As a class, talk about how we decide to define something as a miracle. Do we have to believe in God to believe in miracles?
  • Ask students to script a meeting between two Maccabees, one who personally witnessed the miracle of the small cruet of oil and one who participated in the reconquest of the Temple from the Greeks. How would you describe the miracle he personally witnessed? Alternatively, write a letter from a soldier on the battlefield describing the miracles to his family.
  • To learn more about the holiday, study the History of the Holiday unit and read the Talmudic source from the Treatise on Shabbat.
  • Share this folktale with students:
    It tells the story of a man who, on the point of drowning in the sea, called God to save him with a miracle. Suddenly, he passed a ship. The captain saw the drowning man and threw him a life preserver. The man refused to take him, because he believed that a miracle from heaven would come to save him. Soon after, a group of rescuers arrived, but the man refused their help and was waiting for a miracle. Soon after, a helicopter arrived and threw a ladder at him, but the man was stubborn in his faith and refused the helicopter’s help. Eventually, he drowned. When he reached heaven, he approached God and angrily asked him, “Why didn’t you send me help?” God smiled at him and said, “I have sent you many miracles: the boat, the rescuers, even a helicopter. But you too must help yourself and accept help ”.
    Ask students what they think about the man’s behavior. Is it correct when he claims that no miracle was done in his favor? What can we learn from this story about the popular understanding of miracles and the storyteller’s idea of ​​what constitutes a miracle?
  • Watch this performance by Al HaNissim and learn the melody.