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Thus, the custom developed to reward children for excelling in their studies and as an incentive to continue (Art Scroll Chanukah p.108).
(2) There used to be a custom that poor children would solicit money for Chanukah – presumably so their families would have enough money to buy oil for the Chanukah lights (Magen Avraham 670).
The basis for it, however, is actually not that clear.
I’ll offer a few suggestions: (1) Chanukah is a time when we celebrate Torah study – the wisdom of the Jewish people the Greeks sought to suppress when they forbade Torah study.
This difference becomes most striking in our attitude towards money. But whereas Greece would see it as a means of spending more on ourselves and enjoying higher pleasures, Israel rightly saw it as a means towards a higher ends.
The Sages teach us that our patriarch Jacob, on his return to the Holy Land, endangered his life (at least slightly) to retrieve small vessels he had left behind (Talmud Chullin 91a).
We thus distribute coins on Chanukah to celebrate the higher appreciation of money the holiday afforded us (Rabbi Yochanan Zweig).
By contrast, an ancient Greek, who saw man’s body as primary and money only as a means of serving it, would never risk his life in any way for his money.
Perhaps this extended into a more general practice of providing all children with money – so as not to embarrass those families who could not afford the oil.
(3) There is a fundamental difference in worldview between Israel and Ancient Greece.
Two people who want to have a good relationship need to be aware of a basic principle: When each one tries to pull the other to his own direction, there will be conflict and constant quarrel.
But when people focus on their common goals, the differences between them will not cause difficulties, and they will have a peaceful relationship.