As the Chanuka celebration draws to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the fact that during some 250 years following the victory of the Macabees over the Greek/Assyrian tyrant Antiochus, until the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman general Titus, the eight day Chanuka celebration was only one of a number of days set aside for commemorating the Hasmonean victory over our enemies, and the reversal of the evil decrees imposed upon the Jews of the land of Israel, by Antiochus, who sought to uproot the Torah, banishing the light of G-d from the world, and casting humanity into a perpetual darkness. The following is a list of these days, as recorded in the Megillat Ta'anit, written over 2000 years ago:
25 Kislev - today's Chanuka celebration marking the rededication of the altar, the kindling of the menorah, and the miracle of the single cruse of oil which provided light for eight days. (This event actually occurred some years before the final defeat of the Greek/Assyrian army.)
13 Adar - the day the Hasmoneans, (Macabees), defeated Nikanor, the Greek/Assyrian general, and his army.
7 Iyyar - the day the Hasmoneans conquered the Chakra fortress in Jerusalem, which had become a stronghold of the enemy.
27 Iyyar - the day marking the abolition of Antiochus' decree that Jew's must write words of heresy on the horns of their oxen.
15 Sivan - the day the Hasmoneans recaptured the city of Beit She'an from the Greek/Assyrian army, and their Arab allies.
24 Av - the day marking the abolition of of the imposition of Greek law upon the Jews of Israel, and the reinstatement of Torah law.
17 Elul - the day marking the abolition of of the decree of "prima noche" - which compelled all new Jewish brides to spend their wedding night with the Greek/Assyrian "governor" of Israel.
3 Tishrei - the day marking the renewal of the ability to state the "Name of Heaven" (the name of G-d) in public, and the abolition of of the decree compelling Jews to write the name of G-d on their legal/fiscal contracts.
23 Heshvan - the day marking the rebuilding of the soreg - a low wall designating an increased level of sanctity and limited access on the Temple Mount plaza - that the Greek/Assyrian soldiers had destroyed.
3 Kislev - the day marking the removal of the idols that the Greek/Assyrians had placed inside the Holy Temple.
Following the destruction of the Second Temple, the sages, in light of this catastrophic event, declared an end to these various festive days, with the one exception being Chanuka. Because of the miraculous nature of the oil, and the obligation to "publicize", or "advertise" this miracle, the holiday of Chanuka was preserved. In truth, the miracle which occurred on Chanuka was G-d's signature, or endorsement, as it were, of all the other events that led up to the rededication of the Holy Temple and the liberation of the land of Israel from foreign invaders.
May the day come soon when we will again be rededicating the Holy Temple, offering up thanks to our Father in Heaven, and setting new festive days marking the events that led up to the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple, and the renewal of the Divine service.