Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Chanuka = Sufganiyot?

(I believe that I heard this from R’ Meir Goldvicht Shlit”a but it is possible that I heard it elsewhere…)

Chanuka - As the days lead up to this holiday, kids anxiously await the lighting of the first candle and the festivities that follow. In short, it is family time, when relatives both close and distant come together to celebrate our spiritual victory over Hellenism. Objects and delicacies are also used and eaten to extenuate certain events which are also celebrated during this holiday.

Whether it be playing dreidle or eating latkes, it is understood by the masses as to why these practices are done, but one practice in specific is not understood by a majority of the Jewish population.

Jelly Donuts or "Sufganiyot" – Why is it customary for Jews around the world to indulge in these delicious pastries on Chanuka?

Upon being asked this question, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach quoted a gemara (Avodah Zara 52b) that states that upon the Chashmonaim’s victory over the Greeks, they re-entered the Bais HaMikdash in order to clean and purify it from the various Hellenistic impurities that were placed in Temple. They were successful in salvaging and purifying everything except for the stones of the Alter and were forced to bury them.

Donuts are eaten on Chanuka because after eating Donuts an "Al HaMichya" blessing is said. While reciting this blessing after food, we ask Hashem to rebuild Yerushalayim and the Bais HaMikdash. Unlike Bircas Hamazon however, we do not only ask for the rebuilding of the Bais HaMidash but we specifically ask for rachamim (mercy), "Al Mizabachacha" “on your Alter” which was lost during the story of Chanuka.

Ok, perfect, we now understand why it is appropriate to eat donuts on Chanuka,but why specifically jelly donuts?

The Gemara in Sotah answers that from the time when the Bais HaMikdash was destoyed, the taste of fruits has never been the same. Therefore to commemorate the loss of the Bais HaMikdash and the Mizbei’ach we add fruit jelly to our donuts.


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