Lighting the Menorah each night after dark, seeing the children’s excitement for this beautiful Mitzvah, and singing Hallel, the festival prayer of gratitude, praise, and hope each morning for 8 days, is a reservoir of inspiration that it would be a shame to waste. I wish I could take these moments and put them in a bottle to pull out later when I need them most.
“On a good day be good, and on a bad day reflect” (Koheles – Ecclesiastes, 7:14). When you have a day filled with goodness, be mindful of the goodness and let it penetrate your being. On that same day, consider the “bad day” in the future when the cycle of this world takes its natural course, and prepare by insuring your inspiration has left an indelible mark on your soul. Pharoah’s nightmare of healthy cows and grain being consumed by emaciated cows and parched grain gave him no rest, until Joseph proposed a plan to secure Egypt’s healthy years of plenty and responsibly face the years of famine.
Chanukah is a festival designed to leave permanent impressions. The miracle of the oil and the victory over Greek culture were gifts from the Al-mighty during the Second Temple, when a significant portion of the Jewish people were still exiled from Israel, and the feeling of the Al-mighty’s Presence (Shechinah) in the Temple had been diminished. The destruction of the Temple would follow, and our exile continues, the Sages tell us, until the coming of the Messiah (Moshiach). Our celebration of this festival helps us to relive these miracles each year, to help carry us through the exile.
Chanukah is also unique in that it takes place during a full week during which we continue to work normally, and are involved in productive activities. The spiritual experience overlaps the mundane. This demonstrates that it is possible for our daily activities to coexist with G-d’s Presence.
Preparing for Chanukah is relatively easy – clean the Menorahs, buy the wicks and candles, dust off the dreidels – but how will we plan for after Chanukah? Perhaps you have some ideas. Please, share them in the comments below. Have a happy, and long-lasting, Chanukah! (based on Sefer HaLekach V’Halibuv, Chanuka)
Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah,
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org