Hanukkah is not just another week in the Jewish calendar. It can be used as a respite dedicated to personal enlightenment, one week set aside for life transformation. The holiday of Hanukkah signifies the victory of light over darkness, unity over division. Indeed, such a victory requires no less than a miracle, but it is one within grasp. We need only know how to light the candle and make it happen.
Through our connection, we strike a match against the darkness and ignite the light in our lives. This is the brilliance of Hanukkah, the holiday of light. As with a match, a little friction transforms into a gleaming flame.
Of all the holidays, Hanukkah and Purim are considered special for many reasons. First, the Torah makes no mention of them. Second, after the full completion of humanity’s corrections, it is said that all the holidays will be canceled except for these two. According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, Hanukkah and Purim are of utmost importance because both are directly connected to the rebuilding of the Temple, which symbolizes the place where Creator and creation bond. The Temple’s ruin represents a breaking of this bond between us. Rebuilding that bond means attaining all the abundance and goodness in our existence. This is the Kabbalists’ quest.
Like a thirsty man trying to draw water with a leaky bucket, who must first fix the vessel before he can fill it and drink, one who feels detached from spirituality must first mend the bond with the Creator before being able to receive the offered illumination.
In order to live a purposeful life, we need to ascend through a cycle of spiritual development called “a year.” In each upward cycle, we face the same desires met previously, but on ever-higher degrees each time. While we do so, we encounter recurrent milestones of inner changes, discernments and situations aimed at rising to the next spiritual degree, the correction of the soul. The Kabbalists call these degrees “holidays” and “Sabbaths.”
The holidays and Sabbath in our world were determined by Kabbalists to provide a framework of behaviors in accordance with our work in the inner spiritual world. That is the reason we celebrate the holidays each year and the Sabbath each week.
Stopover on an Enlightened Path
The word Hanukkah, from Hebrew “Hanu-Koh,” or “stop here,” represents the first stage of spiritual development, a process of correcting the desire to enjoy for oneself and inverting it into a desire to bestowal unto others, a state that liberates us from darkness. Darkness manifests as separation, conflicts, arguments, ruthless competitiveness, and the desire to exploit and dominate others. Our inner struggle to overcome our egoistic nature is what we call “the War of the Maccabees against the Greeks,” i.e. “Greeks” symbolizing characteristics that yearn for control over us.
The victory over the Greeks is the foundation of any person’s path on the spiritual ladder. This triumph lets us perform corrections that will lead to the final correction—Purim—when we attain the endless bounty that the Creator prepared for all.
When we can rejoice in each other’s successes, share our concerns, in mutual connection, we will realize what nature tries to teach us: that we belong to one single body. If we take just the tiniest step in this direction, we will see miracles on the way. We will see how a small lamp, the smallest jar of oil, will kindle a strong and warm fire that illuminates everyone’s life.
What Is the Miracle of Hanukkah?
Overcoming our ego—the desire to enjoy at others’ expense—requires rising above our nature, and this is considered a miracle. Instinctively, our ego governs our existence, even though the outcome causes a boomerang effect that brings us suffering. How then does this miracle happen? Every time we connect with each other, the force that is higher than all other forces, obstacles and conditions, is drawn into action and the miracles manifest before our eyes.
Although a miracle is a supernatural phenomenon, we are able to make it happen whenever we choose closer connection above all kinds of resistance. Today, if we wish to rise above our ego and try to connect positively with others, a completely new upper force will be revealed within us, and with its help, we will be able to bring peace, love and unity to the world.
Let us spin ourselves together around this exalted goal to ignite the spirit of unity, enlighten our lives, and radiate joy and fulfillment to everyone.
Featured in The Times of Israel