The Jewish world is in the midst of the celebration of the festival of lights, we call Chanukah. We have has entered the spiritual energy of the festival of lights. We have learned that the festivals are not mere commemorations of past events or miracles. Rather, they are opportunities in time, a revisiting of the spiritual energy that enabled the particular miracle to take place. Each time a chag comes around we must ask what is the unique growth opportunity being offered here and how can I learn from it.
Chanukah, illuminates some very relevant insights on our lives.
Our history records the seeds of the battle of Chanukah between the saintly Jewish priests, the Chasmanoim and the Greek Assyrians.
When the Greeks initially enter Jerusalem they do so in relative peace. Jewish children throughout time have been named after Alexander the Great in deference to his kindly treatment of the Jews in his time. Ironically, it is precisely this kindly friendly nature through which the Greeks treated us at first which led to all the issues that brought upon the Chanukah battle. When they are nice to us, and welcome us, we intermingle more, we learn their culture, and many of us begin to assimilate. This is the silent holocaust that we are experiencing currently as the Jewish people. In a time of (relative) acceptance in some countries like the U.S, and others, the Jewish people have lost more people to assimilation than died at the hands of those killing us throughout the generations. The statistics are very scary. This is exactly what began to happen with the Greeks. There was a large proportion of Jews who adopted the Hellenistic materialistically focused culture and slowly drifted away from the Torah and its holy path to Hashem. It was only when the small band of Chasmanoim (the priestly family) rebelled and fought for religious freedom that the Assyriam Greeks were defeated and religious freedom was once again dominant in the land. This victory is what led to the Chanukat Hamizbach and the lighting of the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash. Since as Jews we never celebrate a chag for military victories but rather for the freedom to practice our faith as we choose. The lighting of the narot that lasted eight days is the appropriate celebration for the chag.
The military victory allowed us to once again have circumcision, observe Shabbos and learn Torah without persecution. This is why we light the candles and place them in the public domain to announce and proclaim the miracle of our religious freedom and display our energy to celebrate as we chose.
These lessons are vital for the Jew and the world at a time when so much havoc and destruction is present. We must continue to light the narot and exhibit our freedom to chose and celebrate as a free people everywhere in the world. Let’s be proud of who we are and light our candles for the Hanukah chag with pride and joy and show the world our conviction to our faith, Torah and Hashem.
Rabbi Gabe Elias