Why is chanukah not mentioned in the Tenach or Mishnah?
Chanukah and Tenach
Chanuka, unlike, say, Purim - which even has its own scroll Ester - is not specifically and openly mentioned in the Tanakh. However, this is also impossible because the story happened after the Torah was written. Moses finished writing the Torah in the year 2488 after creation (1273 BCE). The Chanukah miracles occurred over a thousand years later, in the years 3621-3622 (140-139 BCE). However, since HaShem is beyond time, you can see an indirect and hidden link in the Torah to Chanukah. The 25 word in Tenach is namely light, is referred to the 25 Kislev, where Chanukah starts.
Chanukah and Mishnah
Although the Chanukah menorah does merit a few scattered mentions in the Mishnah, Rabbi Judah the Prince, the compiler of the Mishnah, did not dedicate a portion of his work to this holiday, this unlike other holidays that have their own tractate. Think, for example, of Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah or Shevuot.
The purpose of the Mishnah was to put the Oral Torah in writing so that this oral tradition would not be lost. Matters that were as widely known as saying the Shema, for example, received little attention in the Mishnah. From the Shema is not even said that it has to be said, but only hints are given about the right time. And so it was with Chanukah. It was so fresh in everyone's mind that there was no need to write it down. Only much later, they would be added to tractate Shabbat.
But there is another reason it is not mentioned in the Mishnah. The Mishnah, as mentioned above, is the writing down of the Oral Torah. It is addressed to the Jewish people, it is internal literature, it is private, it is a direct connection to HaShem. It is the light of Torah which you have in your heart.
The Chanukah Menorah, on the other hand, is placed in front of the window
so that everyone can see it. It is meant for the outside world, it is an external sign, even for those who do not (not yet or especially for them ) have a relationship with HaShem.
Thus, the Mitzvah of Chanukah could not be mentioned in the Mishna as it would contradict the essential nature of the Mishnah because the essential nature of Chanukah is to spread the light of victory, over wickedness and idolatry and the worship of HaShem, throughout the world.
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners and intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further.
NoahideAcademy.org's copyright policy.