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On an advertisement for the Lubavitch National Menorah lighting at the White House this year, I saw a little banner that said "Hakhel Year! Special Gathering!" or something of that sort (I don't have it in front of me).

Is that just an advertising gimmick, or is there any added significance of Chanukah or menora lighting in the year of Hakhel?

  • Chanuka is also connected to Sukkos (see e.g. the Shem MiShmuel). – Loewian Dec 9 '15 at 15:16
  • @Loewian ...or, for an earlier source, see the Books of Maccabees and Kings). – Double AA Dec 9 '15 at 15:23
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Here is one place were the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke about the connection between the Hakhel year and public Chanukah gatherings. (Toras Menachem Hisvaduyos 5748 v2 pg 157-158):

וזהו החידוש המיוחד בכינוס דימי חנוכה בשנה זו - שנת הקהל: "כינוס" - הו״ע של "הקהל", ובפרט כשמשתתפים בו אנשים ונשים וטף - "הקהל את העם האנשים והנשים והטף". ותוכנו של הכינוס - להוסיף חיזוק בכל עניני יהדות, תורה ומצוותי׳, ובפרט כשמתקיים בימי חנוכה, שבהם מודגש הענין ד"נר מצוה ותורה אור", הוא - ע״ד ובדוגמת התוכן ד"הקהל", "למען ישמעו ולמען ילמדו גו׳ ושמרו לעשות את כל דברי התורה הזאת גו׳ ליראה את ה׳ אלקיכם". ושייכות מיוחדת - לכינוס של "צבאות-השם": היסוד של הצבא הוא - משמעת, ביטול ויראה למפקד העליון (הרמטכ״ל) של הצבא, ובנוגע ל"צבאות-השם" - יראת ה׳ (כפי שאמרתם זה עתה "והנה ה׳ נצב עליו כו׳ ובוחן כליות ולב אם עובדו כראוי"), שזהו גם תוכן הענין ד"הקהל" - "ליראה את ה׳ אלקיכם". וזוהי ההוראה המיוחדת מכינוס של "צבאות-השם" בימי חנוכה דשנת הקהל - שכאו״א מכם, מאתנו, צריך לנצל את הימים דשנה זו, שנת הקהל, לפעול בענין ד"הקהל את העם האנשים והנשים והטף", החל מילדי ישראל השייכים ל"צבאות-השם" - שצריכים לאסוף ולהקהיל שאר ילדי ישראל, ולומר בפניהם דברי-תורה שיעוררום ליראה את ה׳, ולפעול עליהם שגם הם יצטרפו ל"צבאות-השם" וישפיעו על ילדים נוספים כו׳

And this is the special novelty in the Chanukah gathering this year, the Hakhel year: a gathering is along the lines of Hakhel, especially when men, women, and children take part, [as the verse says] "gather [=Hakhel] the people, men, women, and children", and the substance of the gathering is the increasing of strengthening all areas of Judaism, Torah, its Mitzvos. Especially when it takes place during the days of Chanukah, on which the idea of "a Mitzva is a lamp and Torah is a light" is emphasized, it is along the lines of and in the mold of the content of Hakhel: "so that they will hear and learn, etc., and keep to do all the word of this Torah, etc., to revere God your god". And there's an especial connection to the gathering of Tzivos Hashem: the foundation of an army is submission and reverence of the chief of staff of the army – for Tzivos Hashem, reverence of God…, which is also the substance of the idea of Hakhel: "to revere God your god". And this is the especial lesson from the Tzivos Hashem gathering during Chanukah in the Hakhel year: that every one of you, of us, must use the days of this year, the Hakhel year, to have an effect in the area of "gather [=Hakhel] the people, men, women, and children", starting with the children fit for Tzivos Hashem: that we must gather more of the Jewish children, say words of Torah before them that will awaken them to revere God, and have an effect on them that they, too, will join Tzivos Hashem and influence more children, etc.

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The mitzvah of hakhel is specific to the times of the beis hamikdash and takes places on the second day of sukos.

The concept of hakhel is taken further in chassidus. The Rebbe talked many times aout a hakhel year (shnas hakhel). the idea being that even while today we are unable to fulfill the specific mitzvah of hakhel the year is related to hakhel as a whole and how the year in which hakhel is supposed to take place has a specific koach which can be used to energize the knowledge of Torah and Mizvos. Chanukkah is another mitzvah which is related to being in public and so a chanukkah lighting in public during the year of hakhel has special importance in spreading the light of Torah and chassidus in the world.

Specifically at these public gatherings the Rebbe specified to related them to the 3 yesodos of the world being prayer, the study of Torah, and charity.

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    Editing into your answer sources for its claims would improve its value. – msh210 Dec 9 '15 at 14:02
  • Does Hakhel really need a Mikdash? – Double AA Dec 9 '15 at 15:23

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