When being asked what Chanukah is about, many people respond vague sentiments about oil and 8 nights of presents.
And it’s simple to catch up on the story of Chanukah. But what does the holiday mean to us today?
Here are a few thoughts:
Night Number 1 – The Miracle in the Present
The point of lighting the menorah isn’t to remember the miracle.
It’s to re-experience the miracle.
Every holiday is imbued with a spiritual reality. An energy that pours down from the heavens and pulsates throughout the earth.
Just waiting to be tapped into.
Pesach is the holiday of freedom. Simchat Torah is the holiday of joy.
Chanukah is the holiday of miracles.
Every night, as we light these candles, we’re not commemorating a past event.
We are accessing the potential of the present.
Now is the time of wonder.
Night Number 2 – The Miracle is in the Seeking
The fact is that nowadays we’re not seeing the miracle of the oil.
My candles do not burn for 8 nights straight. Every day, I must set them up anew.
Because we’ve reached a time in life when we can’t just sit around waiting for miracles to happen.
We’re expected to seek miracles. To create them.
In the time of the Holy Temple, there was a miracle in the fact that the menorah burned for 8 nights.
But what brought that about?
The miracle that the Jews searched for the oil in the first place.
Night Number 3 – The Miracle is in Moving Forward
Menorahs are frequently pictured with all 8 candles lit… but 7/8ths of the time, that doesn’t reflect the reality.
When lighting the menorah, we start with 1. And make our way up.
Step by step.
Adding one candle more, every night.
Because most of the time, living a miracle, being miraculous, is not huge.
It’s not flashy.
Most of the time, living a miracle just means taking another step at a time when taking another step seems impossible.
Most of the time, living a miracle just means knowing where you are.
And making one small shift forward.
Night Number 4 – The Miracle is in Opening Your Eyes
Jewish law encourages abstaining from work whilst the candles are lit.
Sitting by the menorah for 30 minutes. Playing dreidel with family. Singing songs. Eating chocolate. Meditating.
Watching the candles flicker by the window.
Because a part of experiencing miracles,
Is just seeing that they’re already there.
We may not recognize them, because they surround us every day.
But they are there.
There is something magnificent about a miracle that breaks nature. A miracle that confronts nature and slaps it across the face.
But there is something delicious about a miracle that shows the miraculous nature of nature itself.
We all wait for great, incredible, awe-inspiring happenings. Like the splitting of the sea.
But we are swimming through an ocean of wondrous events,
Every single moment.
Night Number 5- You are the Miracle for Others
The rabbis do not tell us to “remember the miracle of the oil.”
You are meant to “publicize the miracle of the oil.”
To light your menorah in a thoroughfare. Where everyone can see it.
Because it is your responsibility to bring light to others.
To be the miracle for others.
It is the season of giving. We are tapping into that fact.
We can’t wait for miracles.
Because sometimes, you are the miracle.
You are integral to the workings of this world.
Night Number 6 – Reaching Infinity
7 is the number of nature;
There are 7 days in the week. 7 notes in a musical scale. 7 colors in a rainbow.
8 is the number of miracles;
Turn the number 8 on its side. It becomes the symbol of infinity.
The difference between finite and infinite?
It’s just one.
It’s in extending yourself beyond your nature. Beyond what is comfortable.
The formation of muscle is in that one extra lunge.
Night Number 7 – The Miracle is You
The Hebrew word for the number 8, shemonah, has the same letters as the Hebrew word for Soul, neshama.
Tonight, your soul shines.
Realize the miracle that you are.
Realize the infinite power that you have.
Realize that Divinity is not an unreachable concept.
Miracles are not the domain of the heavens.
The miracle of today is you.
When we access our own miraculous nature, the power of our souls, and use that to connect to others, to bring up others, to show others the light that they have in themselves…
Then, we become an explosion.
Night Number 8 – The Unexplained Miracle
Beyond all that has been said about recognizing the miracles in our daily lives and being the miracle for others.
Sometimes, we need something…
Something totally unexplainable.
And that, too, is the nature of this holiday.
May we all be blessed to see whatever miracles we are praying for.