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              A Message from our Chazzan

                                         Yitzy Spinner

                                                                 not included in the Tanach canonization that are incredibly
                                                                 It is quite amazing that this Megillah is virtually unknown to
                                                                 most people. Several Gaonic works reference this Megillah.
                                                                 Even R’ Shimon Kayyara (ninth century) mentions that the Me-
                                                                 gillat Antiochus will be read on Chanukah when “there should
                                                                 arise a Kohen with the Urim v’Tumim.” R’ Saadya Gaon himself
                                                                 refers to a version that had markings for Psukim, vowels, and
                                                                 accents, thereby proving its significant role as a publicly read
                                                                 text. It is believed by some that it was R’ Saadya Gaon who
                                                                 translated the Megillah to Hebrew from its original Aramaic.

                                                                 Imagine the surprise of those who unearthed the Cairo
                                                                 Geniza when they found dozens of copies of this text as well.
                                                                 This discovery only proves its popularity.
       Chanukah time…Menorah, dreidel, latkes, and Megillah. Yes,   Few modern Siddurim include this ancient text, but if you
       that’s right. Megillah. I’ll explain.                     have a copy of the old Birnbaum Siddur Hashalem sitting on

       Like many of our holidays, Chanukah introduces numerous   your shelf, have a look at page 713.
       moments of liturgy that appear nowhere else within our    The story of Chanukah is much more than just a jar of oil that
       calendrical cycle. Haneirot Halalu and Maoz Tzur are the ob-  lasted eight days instead of only one. It is the story of a mi-
       vious ones, as well as the paragraph of B’yemei Matityahu. Al   raculous victory of the few over the many, the impure in the
       Hanisim is shared with Purim, and Hallel is shared with many   hands of the pure, the wicked in the hands of the righteous…
       other days.                                               and it’s all recounted in Megillat Antiochus.
       Though Purim and Chanukah share Al Hanisim, there is some-  In this wonderful Chanukah season, Rachel and I (and our
       thing else that they share in common - a Megillah that tells   children) wish you all a Chanukah Sameach filled with light
       their stories. These Megillot are written very similarly, and   and joy.
       it is believed that the Megillah of the Chanukah story was
       modeled after the Megillah of Purim.                      Yitzy Spinner

       Its content is what you would likely expect. The Megillah tells
       the story of Chanukah and the military victories of the Mac-
       cabees over the Syrian Greeks in the 2nd century BCE.

       Megillat Chashmonaim, also known as Megillat Antiochus,
       was written in Aramaic approximately 1500 years. Many old
       Siddurim include a Hebrew translation of the Megillah as
       it was not until 1851 that the original Aramaic version was
       It is fascinating to note that while many people today do not
       even know of its existence, Megillat Antiochus was read by
       many European communities throughout the Middle Ages.
       Some Yemenite communities still include the reading of this
       obscure text. The communities that read this Megillah did so
       on Shabbat Chanukah at Mincha!

       Even the Megilla’s authorship is unclear. Some say that it
       was written by the sons of Matityahu, and others attribute it
       to the elders of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel.
       We all know of the Five Megillot that we read throughout
       the yearly cycle - Shir HaShirim, Rut, Eicha, Kohelet, and
       Esther. There are, however, many bodies of work which were            Megillat Antiochus

                                                  SCOPE Magazine Chanukah 2022    5
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