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Why is the story of Chanukah not mentioned in the Mishnah at all, besides for to Passing references to Halachot which apply to them in the context of Damages an the laws of planting?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

A lot of the answers given so far, plus some others, are summarized and discussed in this post at the Seforim Blog.

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Thanx, Great Link – SimchasTorah Nov 29 '10 at 23:22

A reason I have heard why Chanukah is minimized in the Mishnah is that Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi was a descendant of David HaMelech and was upset that the Chashmoneans took away the Meluchah from the descendants of David HaMelech.

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If I recall correctly, this is from the Chasam Sofer. – Alex Nov 29 '10 at 6:06
It's not just "oh I'm mad 'cause you messed with my great-granddaddy." The Torah had mandated a separation between the political and religious authorities; the Hasmoneans, good-intentioned as they were, broke that. Within a few generations of the Hasmonean dynasty, we found that when priests try to be kings, they fail both as priests and as kings, as the later Hasmoneans made both egregious halachic errors, and political missteps that eventually led to the destruction of the Second Temple. – Shalom Nov 29 '10 at 14:20

Rabbi Michael Hasten suggests something dangerously simple: the basic observance of Chanukah is straightforward (light candles, okay), and we know from historic sources that it was wildly popular throughout the Jewish population. The Mishnah didn't concern itself with the absolute basics that everyone did and knew already. (E.g. the Mishnah opens "when is it late enough to say Shema at night?", assuming you already knew that Shema is said at night.)

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Why "dangerously"? (I've also heard this explanation before, so thanks for providing a source.) – Alex Nov 29 '10 at 17:53
"Dangerous" because no one had said it previously, and because it deflates the opportunity for all these other wonderful shticklach toirah! – Shalom Nov 29 '10 at 18:20
"Deflates the opportunity" -- make that "deflates the necessity" – Shalom Nov 29 '10 at 18:21
Per Alex's link above -- looks like this answer has in fact been given before, though in lesser-known (to me at least) sources. – Shalom Nov 29 '10 at 21:21
@Menachem: algemeiner.net/generic.asp?id=992 (same as above, except that they changed the TLD from .com to .net). – Alex Dec 14 '11 at 3:54

In one of his sefarim (יסוד המשנה ועריכתה), R' Reuven Margalios argues that R' Yehudah Hanassi omitted mention of Chanukah from the Mishnah in order not to antagonize the Romans (since, after all, one aspect of Chanukah is the celebration of the defeat of a powerful non-Jewish occupying government).

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Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner talks about Chanukah as the celebration of oral tradition (not just the written Bible), so the early edition of the Talmud (the Mishna) kept it that way too.

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Because this chag celebrating the dedication of the mizbeyach was not commonly observed after the destruction of the mikdash, along with the other days in Megillas Taanis. The gemora says this, contradicting the braisa in Shabbos that says that the opinions on the manner of lighting are from Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai. One could say that the houses preserved two obsolete traditions and argued them regardless of the fact that the days were not observed (which was common). Hanukkah was certainly observed later, it appears by the time of R. Yohanan. Ironically, around the time of the liberation of Eretz Yisrael BY THE ROMANS from the hated Palmyrene/Tadmorean occupation of the 270s.

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What's your source for this? Abaye argues תיבטל היא ותיבטל מצותה (Rosh Hashanah 18b), but that argument is overruled - and anyway, he lived after 270. But we do have authorities who lived before that date - various Tannaim and early Amoraim - discussing details of the laws of Chanukah; where do you get that this was all a theoretical discussion? – Alex Jan 12 '11 at 20:40

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