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The Vision of Chanukah

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The Vision of Chanukah 

Rav Menachem Weinberg

 

Of all the festivals, only Chanuka commemorates historical events that occurred in the land of Israel. More than on any other holiday, this festival is celebrated by the Jewish home – ‘ner ish u-beito,’ ideally lighting a candle at the doorway. Returning after so long an exile and once again celebrating in our national homeland Israel, the largest Jewish state since the time of the Macabees, should heighten our awareness of the miracles that Hashem does for us ‘continuously every day’ (from the prayers) both nationally and personally.

An analysis of the blessings we recite when lighting the Chanuka menorah is instructive. The phrasing of the blessing upon lighting the candles seems to indicate that we are merely kindling the ‘ner (shel) Chanuka’ that already exists. Uniquely for this mitzvah, all we have to do is to notice the candles (that someone else lit) in order to recite a blessing marking the miracles ‘in those days, at this time.’ Just like someone who visits a place where a miracle occurred for him recites a blessing, we ‘publicize the miracle’ by opening our eyes to seeing our history in a new light. It is not the practical benefits that we celebrate, as we declare that we have no right to use these lights; Chanuka serves to heighten our appreciation and gratitude, looking at the world with ‘Chanuka vision.’

 

Learning to ‘give thanks and praise’ can pave our way as we seek to infuse our personal and national home with the presence of the Divine, and illuminate the darkness of exile with the light of Torah. On the festival of seeing ‘chen’ (grace), recognizing the miracles that Hashem has graced us with is a good way to start.

Chanuka Sameach.

 

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