I'm having trouble understanding the concluding phrase in the famous Hannukah song O Hannukah, which is על הנפלאות אשר חללו המכבים. What root is חללו and what is its meaning here? How to translate the phrase?

  • Are you sure its חללו? I think it would make sense if it is הללו meaning "on the wonders that the Maccabim praised"
    – Dov
    Dec 9, 2020 at 21:32
  • The line is heresy. The verb לחולל means "to generate" (cite: Google translate). Maccabees do not chas veshalom generate miracles.
    – Double AA
    Dec 9, 2020 at 21:44
  • tzohar.org.il/?p=2742
    – rosends
    Dec 9, 2020 at 22:46
  • @DoubleAA Huh. That must be why I learned the lyric as אשר חולל ה' למכבים, "that G-d wrought for the Maccabees".
    – ezra
    Dec 10, 2020 at 6:32
  • 2
    @dov They say it means accomplished. Anyway it is not in any of the original yiddish versions. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Chanukah# The only big change is in the last line - whereas the original calls to praise God for the miracles he performed, the Hebrew one praises the miracles and wonders performed by the Maccabees. This reflects the anti-religious polemic of early Zionism, evident in many other Israeli Chanukah songs.
    – interested
    Dec 10, 2020 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


According to Milog, the root of חוללו is חי"ל, which is a root that is related to courage and strength. For example, Rabbi Yochanan famously said to Reish Lakish: "חילך לאורייתא - Your strength is fit for Torah study." (Bava Metzia 84a).

The song comes to praise the Maccabees for the wonderous things they did through their strength. @ezra mentioned "wrought" as the translation for the religious version of the line, "אשר חולל ה' למכבים" - that sounds like a good translation to me for here as well, as they wrought wonderous things [through their strength].

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