Chanukah Light

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The Secret of Miracles

We live in a world of cause and effect. The deeds of man, in particular, profoundly affect both the material and spiritual dimensions. In that light, what was the “cause,” i.e., merit that awakened the phenomenal miracles of Chanukah?

The story of the Exodus from Egypt sheds light on our question. HaShem instructed Moshe to tell the Jewish people, who were enslaved in Egypt, that HaShem would soon redeem them. Moshe asked HaShem, “Who should I say sent me to take them out?” HaShem responded, “Tell them that ‘I Will Be” sent you.”

That is, “I Will Be” with the Jewish people in the time of their hardship. Let them pray to me and I will redeem them!”

We would assume that times of trouble are an indication that HaShem has forsaken them; and that He is far away. However, just the opposite is true! The more trouble they endure, the closer HaShem is to them, i.e., “I Will Be” with them during their hardship.

There is no greater test of faith than affliction. However, if we hold our faith that HaShem is with us and pray to Him, He will reveal Himself. Accordingly, the heartfelt prayers of our enslaved brethren in Egypt awakened the awesome miracles of the Exodus.

So too, the People of Israel suffered greatly under the Greek oppression. However, they trusted that “HASHEM WAS WITH THEM,” Their sincere prayers and courageous actions awakened the miracles of Chanukah. He was close and revealed His love, kindness, mercy, and holiness. (based on Ha’arus HaTefilah citing the Ramban)

Today: If you are in a tight spot, know that the HaShem is close to you – pray to Him and He will rescue you.

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The Agadah of the Talmud

Our observance of Chanukah centers on lighting the Menorah. Yet, does the Menorah, in and of itself, truly encompass the essence of Chanukah and its celebration?

The Talmud (Shabbos 21a) records the miracle of Chanukah that took place with the one day supply of olive oil that burned for eight full days. The text also informs us that the following year our Sages ordained the festival of Chanukah “to thank and praise HaShem.”

Yet, there seems to be something missing here. Regarding the commemoration of the miracles, the Talmud does not even mention the kindling of the Chanukah lights! It says only that we observe Chanukah exclusively by “thanking and praising HaShem.” What happened to lighting the Menorah?

HaShem made the flask of oil burn for eight days as well as, gave our holy Maccabe’an army victory over the powerful and ruthless Greeks. These stunning miracles were on the magnitude of holiness of the miraculous Exodus from Egypt. At the time of Chanukah, HaShem openly revealed His kindness, compassion, and love for Am Yisrael. In turn, the People rejoiced by expressing thanks and praise to HaShem.

Therefore, our celebration corresponds exactly to what took place in the generation of the Macabbees. The essence of our Chanukah festival is to THANK AND PRAISE HASHEM for the open miracles that He performed.

Lighting the Menorah, in and of itself, does not fulfill the Mitzvah “to thank and praise HaShem.” Rather, the Menorah helps us remember HaShem’s wonderful kindness to the Macabbees. As we light the Menorah, may we reflect on HaShem’s open miracles, so that our hearts will be moved to joyously thank and praise HaShem! (based on the Chachmah and Mussar of the Altar of Kelm)

Today: Take a moment to review this lesson before you light the Menorah.


Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation


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