– One of the differences between Chanukah and other festivals is that on other festivals, there is an obligation to celebrate with festive meals which include bread, water, meat, and wine. In contrast, on Chanukah, there is no obligation to celebrate with festive meals; and the meals one serves are optional in nature (see “Shulchan Aruch haRav”, “Hilchot Chanuka”). The commemoration of the miracle is, in contrast, through the recitation of prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and through kindling the Chanukah lights.
Nevertheless, a Chanukah feast is not considered a mitzvah, unless you sing hymns and praises to Hashem during the meal (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – Chapter 139: Laws of Chanukah).
– There is a reason for such a difference. The miracle of Chanukah involved a victory over the Yavanim (the “Greeks”) who desired to “make them forget Your Torah and cause them to transgress the decrees of Your will.” This — in contrast to the victory of Purim where Haman’s decree was directed against the physical existence of the Jewish people, or the miracle of Pesach, when the Jews were rescued from physical servitude — represented a spiritual victory.
Accordingly, its commemoration is through spiritual activities, the recitation of prayers and kindling lights which symbolize “the light of the Torah and the lamp of mitzvos.”
The distinction of Chanukah as different from the other festivals, applies not only in regard to the fact that the commemoration of Chanukah was associated with lighting candles rather than festive meals, but also that the spiritual significance of the holiday is different and on a higher plane than that of the other holidays…
This week: the Rebbe’s talk, revealing the mysteries of Hanukkah, is waiting for you in “The Rebbe’s Talks” podcast on the main screen of the app.