This week we are celebrating Chanukah - yes let's have some fun light the menorah, eat latkes and sufganiot and give presents to the kids.
Yes, there is the historical victory that lead to amongst other freedom of Religion.
But the real question is how to make Chanukah meaningful to our Religion. How do we make Religion relevant to our Lives? Here I am not referring to the halakhot of the menorah etc.., but using Chanukah to connect to the Soul of Judaism, to ourselves and ultimately to each other.
I have culled a few thoughts from the soul of Chanukah edited by Rabbi Shlomo Katz based on the teachings of Reb Shlomo Carlebach.
The chapter headings give as a clue to what we need to focus on:
There is a halacha that we are not permitted to use the Chanukah lights, only to look at them.
According to Rav Nachman, the biggest fixing is for your Eyes on Chanukah. Our Sages tells us the most important thing to work on is Ayin Tovah, to have good eyes. To see the good is each person and of course ourselves.
Lighting the Chanukah is a happy event. It is a time to use this happiness to uplift our souls The Light of Chanukah is Ohr Haganuz, the concealed light.
When God created the world, he said let there be light.
And what light are we celebrating. We are celebrating to the lighting of Menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem.
Yes, by us lighting the Menorah we are reconnecting our Souls to Jerusalem and to the service to God in the Temple.
This is so deep that I cannot even fathom the beauty and truth of this.
On Purim we get dressed up and act like children. Is it not amazing that both Purim and Chanukah, the big emphasis is on our children These two holidays are the holidays of children, the one that keeps us going.
The young people of today are not unlike the young people in the days of the Maccabees. They too strayed from the holy tradition. We need leaders like Yehudah the Maccabee to show us how beautiful it is to be Jew.
Chanukah is the one holiday where we defy death. The Maccabees were seventy people fighting 500,000 soldiers. It took a lot of Chutzpa to do this. What does it mean to have Holy Chutzpa? It means to have Mesirus Nefesh. To give of our Lives to our cause.
Again, the similarities of the Medinat Yisrael are startling. (I am trying very hard not to be political here)
On Chanukah we get a glimpse of what God is all about. We experience his Miracles, his Torah.
On every holiday there is entire tractate in the Talmud. the Gemara has only two and a half pages about Chanukah The Chanukah lights are not that bright and last maximum 2-3 hours. When something is deep it has no words. light has no words. This little light enables us to fight the darkness and evil in this world. It shines Knowledge on to us, so we can succeed.
Chanukah is the first holiday of Torah Shel Peh. It is the first holiday we added on our own. On Chanukah, we add more light every night. We celebrate the expanding of our Holiness.
The Oral Law is about the Children choosing their parents. We choose Hashem. The Greeks wanted us to forget the Torah. On Chanukah we are relighting our Connection to Torah.
The mitzvah of Chanukah is lighting the Menorah in our Home. We are bringing that light and Torah in our homes as a message to our children that the light is Shining. The future is bright. Mashiach is on the way.
Illuminate your Chanukah with this one of a kind book by Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider. Always a fun-filled holiday, Chanukah is given new depth with inspirational stories and teachings from sages and teachers of our own era, including Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
With an engaging style and accompanied by Aitana Perlmutter’s evocative original artwork, The Light That Unites contains the berachot for candle lighting, the traditional songs, birkat hamazon, the Chanukah minhagim, all enhanced with a kaleidoscope of interpretations, commentary, and insights. Divided into eight chapters, one for each night, and into 36 sections, one for each Chanukah candle, the book is designed as a guide and companion for the candle lighting ceremony and as a source of understanding and spirituality that will beautify the entire holiday.