Sunday, December 5, 2021

 

JAG HA’BANOT - EID AL-BANAT

WHAT IS EID AL BANAT?

عيد البنات

Eid Al-Banat is a festival related to the New Moon of the month of Tevet. Rosh Chodesh Tevet is the celebration of Eid Al-Banot (The daughters in Hebrew). This New Moon is especially associated with the Hebrew women; Although all New Moons have a general association with women, The 1 of Tevet is particularly the day known as Chag Ha-Banot (the Festival of the Daughters of Israel), the Day of the Daughters or in Arabic: [Eid Al-Banat], in French: Fête des Filles.

It is a holiday celebrated mainly by some of the Jewish communities of the Middle East, especially in the Maghreb (in North Africa), on the Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) of the Jewish month of Tevet, and it always coincides with the seventh day of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

The Jewish communities where this holiday was best preserved are located in Tunisia. But there is evidence that it was also celebrated in the Jewish communities of Libya, Algeria, Kushta, Morocco and also Thessaloniki (Salonica).


The Origins of the Eid Al Banat Festival

The festival of Eid Al-Banat or Rosh Chodesh La-Banot, the 1st of the Hebrew month of Tevet, was preserved in Tunisia and on the island of Djerba, where it is believed that the Kohanim of the Beit Ha'Mikdash had been exiled, the priests of the second Temple. The Jewish inhabitants of the Island of Djerba preserved many ancient traditions just like this one. And as mentioned above this holiday is mainly celebrated by women in numerous other Jewish communities throughout the Middle East and is linked to various events throughout Jewish history.

The Book of Esther tells us that it was specifically in the month of Tevet, that Queen Esther had been crowned queen in the Persian kingdom (Iran); therefore, many of the practices of Rosh Chodesh La-Banot (Eid Al-Banat) are similar to those of the Jewish holiday of Purim associated with Queen Esther.

The Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) of the month of Tevet always coincides with the seventh day of Chanukah, which according to various traditions the miracle of Canukah is closely linked to one or more women. Chanukah is especially linked to the heroic stories of Yehudit and Chana (Grace), the daughter of Mattityahu Ben Yochanán, the Kohen Gadol.

In addition, there are those who relate this holiday with the history of the daughter of Yiftaj, and with the expulsion of the alien women during the time of Esdras the Scribe;

and there are those who attribute the holiday to the history of other heroic women, such as: Deborah, Yael, Zera, daughter of Asher, Chana of the seven children and Brurya, the wife of Rabbi Meir.

THE JEWISH MAIDEN IN PERSIA

The Rambam, the great Moses Ben Maimon comments about Megillat Esther, about what Queen Esther said: "I and my maidens will also observe the same fast" - My maidens? Yes, there were Jewish maidens freed by the queen; which, without a doubt, had been under the heavy yoke of the queen before Esther. It is believed that the wicked Vashti, the daughter of the wicked, forced them to work on Shabbat. As Esther said: "They and I will join the fast of all Israel."

Another similarity that Eid Al-Banat has with the Feast of Purim is the tradition of sending cookies from one home to another, similar to the Mishloach Manot. Some other traditions are drinking wine, and another is giving to needy children, similar to Matanot La'Evyoním.


RELATIONSHIPS WITH CHANUkAH AND YEHUDIT, THE HEROIN

Because the holiday falls on the seventh day of Chanukah; therefore, it is the precise moment to remember the connection with the heroine Yehudit and with Chana Bat Mattityahu (the granddaughter of Yochanán, the Kohen Gadol of the second temple in Jerusalem).

Although the Sefer Yehudit, the book of Judith, was not canonized in the Tanakh, that book, whose Hebrew version was lost, tells the story of the heroine Yehudit who killed Holofernes, the general of the Greek army. Tunisian tradition tells that this story happened exactly on Rosh Hodesh (the New Moon) of Tevet; And that is why, in Tunisia, its importance is marked with the Eid Al-Banat celebrations.

According to Mizheyna Cohen of Djerba, Eid Al-Banat "is like a memorial to Yehudit, who with her heroic strength had saved Jerusalem and the Jewish kingdom." And hence, there is a tradition to also consume dairy products during the Eid Al-Banat festivities.

The general story is as follows: (taken from aish.com) "A Greek commander, named Holofernes, had led his army to put down a revolt that was beginning in Jerusalem. The Greek forces camped around the city walls and began a prolonged siege. Although Jerusalem was a well-fortified city, the relentless siege by a superior army began to take a heavy toll on the city's citizens. A widow named Yehudith left the city and requested an audience with the commander. She too She had brought cheeses and wine. Her plan was to seduce him and then kill him. Her plan was successful.

The commander organised a banquet in honour of Yehudith and got quite drunk. That same night, he and Yehudith retired to his private tent, where he soon fell into a deep sleep. And while he was asleep, Yehudith took the sword from him and beheaded him. Then Yehudith left the camp taking the commander's head with her back to Jerusalem, where his head was hung on the city walls for all to see. The Jews were greatly inspired by Yehudith's daring heroism, and the Greek forces withdrew. It was a key turning point in the Jewish revolt against the Greeks. "

Finally the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) of Tevet commemorates the anniversary of the death of Abraham Avinu, the first Jew, the number 1 father of the Jewish nation. May his memory be a great blessing!



PRAYER OF THANKS FOR JANUCA AND EID AL-BANAT

Ribono Shel Olam, Kol Yachol; O Eternal, our God, and God of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs of blessed memories, may we have the Merit to see such miracles, signs and great wonders done, like those you did for our ancestors. We thank you, O Eternal, our God for the miracles, the redemption, the wonders, the acts of salvation and for the wonderful acts that you did for our ancestors in those days, in the time of Chanukah.

May the final Geulá (Redemption) be fulfilled today in our days and in our lives, just as you fulfilled it in the days of Mattityahu, the son of Yochanan, the Cohen Gadol (the High Priest), the Chasmonean with their children! May redemption also be accomplished with us, as you did with the Maccabees, when the evil Hellenic government had risen up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah, and to make them violate the decrees of Your will!

Yet you, in your abundant mercies, supported them in the time of their distress.



Please deliver us today, as you freed them in their battles, as you defended them with their rights, and avenge yourself as you avenged yourself for the damage they had done to them!

May the following saying be fulfill in us: “You gave the powerful into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the Tzadikim (the righteous) and rampant sinners in the hands of those who engaged in the studies of your Torah!

Sanctify your name, make yourself a great name of renown like you did for yourself in the ancient time, magnify your great name, and show the whole world how distinguished and holy your name is, do with us as you carried out that colossal liberation and redemption for your people Israel, known and noteworthy to this day.

May Your children now enter the sanctuary of Your chosen House, purify the place of Your Temple, purify Your Sanctuary, that the great golden Menorah be lit in Your sacred courts, and may the days of Chanukah for the Third Temple begin to give thanks to you and to praise Your Holy and great Name.