November 26, 2021                                                                                                  Kislev 22, 5782
Candlelighting Time 4:19 PM

Soon we will celebrate the Yom Tov of Chanukah. For many of us, we are intensely focused on the mitzvah of kindling the menorah which is, of course, the main theme. However, upon further introspection, we will notice that the insertion during Shemoneh Esreh referring to the miracle of Chanukah, mentions that we were successful in battle against all odds and that our Sages established this Yom Tov as a time for praise to Hashem. Therefore, in order to capture the all-inclusive essence of Chanukah, we must delve further into its message.

S’fas Emes notes that we say that our Sages established these days for praise and thanksgiving to Hashem. He understands that through our praising Hashem we actually confer upon these days an aura of Yom Tov. He elaborates that Hashem, in his ultimate kindness, provided us with miraculous events in order that we will recognize Hashem’s hand in those events and therefore we will elevate ourselves beyond our natural energy and capacity to serve Him. Our enriched lifestyle is a response to Hashem’s circumventing the normal path that would have taken place and as a result we were inspired similarly to reach a level of cognizance Hashem that otherwise we would not have perhaps accessed. The stimulation that motivates us has the ability to remain and continuously encourage our newly found stance. That existential recognition is measured by our desire to commit to Hashem’s will under the most trying and difficult circumstances. And this stems from the innermost recesses of our heart when we acknowledge Hashem’s supremacy and ultimate omnipresence.

This message actually meshes well with the following thought from the Chasam Sofer. In the special prayer that we add during Chanukah we mention Hashem’s ‘salvation as of this day’. Although a seemingly enigmatic phrase, it actually captures an extremely poignant matter.

The Sages understood that since the kingship of King David was not assured, the salvation that we had merited would be short-lived. Therefore, the Hasmoneans struggled to ensure that Torah’s secure place amongst our nation would be bolstered and reinforced. They instituted numerous underpinnings to support the power of Torah in the foreseeable impending exile that would suppress our people. Without their foresight, the pedestal upon which our Torah rests would have perhaps endured irrevocable destabilization. The kindling of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash after the defeat of the Greeks embodied the thrust of the Sages at that time. They literally and metaphorically enlightened our eyes, and this is the illumination that we look forward to and benefit from when we light our menorahs every year at this time. 

Our impetus to sacrifice our very lives for the principles of our faith, so deeply embedded in our consciousness from the time of Avrohom’s offering of Yitzchok on the altar, is amplified and strengthened when the flames of our ancestor’s determination to fight against an enemy much stronger than they dances and sways in front of our eyes. We internalize their passion and carry forth their battle as we continue to serve Hashem with ongoing fervor and resolve.  


Chanukah is a time when we express our humility to Hashem always voicing our gratitude for the wonderous miracles that He bestows upon us.               LEVUSH