Today is the eighth and last day of Chanukah.
We celebrate eight days of Chanukah due to the miracle of the oil which was enough for only one day and ended up lasting for eight days. Is there any other significance in the number eight?
Yes. Eight is a special number. Eight signifies something which is higher than "nature." The world was created in seven days. Shabbat, the holiest days of the week, is the seventh day. However, the number eight points to a force higher than nature, which is in the realm of seven.
During the eight days of Chanukah there is always a Shabbat or two, if the first day Chanukah is Shabbat and a Rosh Chodesh. Is there any significance in this?
Yes. Of the many decrees which were put on Jews at that time there was a prohibition to observe Shabbat as a day of rest and a ban to observe Rosh Chodesh. Thus, the miracle came out in such a way that, within the eight days of Chanukah, there is always a Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.
There was also a decree which forbid the practice of circumcision, which is performed on the eighth day. Celebrating Chanukah for a period of eight days also attests to this miracle as well.
On the Dreidel there are four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimel, Hay, Shin, which is an acronym for, "A great miracle happened there." What other message do these four letters have?
Every Hebrew letter also has a numerical value. The letter "Nun" represents: 50; "Gimel" is 3; "Hay" is 5; "Shin"is 300 - together they add up to 358.
The numerical value of the four letters which spell, "Moshiach" (40+300+10+8) also add up to 358. Thus, Chanukah is also a message of hope for the coming of Moshiach, when we will have the Holy Temple and again light the Menorah in it.
The first night of Chanukah we kindle one light, on the second night two candles, three on the third etc. The Talmudic sage, Hillel the Elder, explains that the reason we do this is because, "in matters of holiness, such as mitzvot, we must increase. We must go up, higher and higher, not down."
This is one of the basic lessons of Chanukah which we should carry forward throughout the year: "In matters of holiness we must go from strength to strength!"