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MWU Chanukah Message

Hanukkah Message 5783: The Miracle of Every Day of Life

Dear friends:

Hanukkah celebrates extraordinary miracles in the lives of the Jewish people – the most well-known, and the one that generates the practice of family gathering, is the turning on of its lights, day after day for 8 days, around Janukkah, the 8-arm lamp +1 [1 []. Yehuda haMacabi[2], the great military leader of the people of Israel, upon liberating the Beit Hamikdash (the Great Temple), found that everything had been desecrated by the Greeks... except a small vessel containing pure olive oil – sealed with the symbol of the High Priest – intended for the lighting of the Temple Menorah. The amount of oil contained was enough for a single day’s lighting; however, the flame fed by him lasted eight days—exactly the time it took to prepare new high-purity oil for the Temple Menorah. Thus took place the Miracle of Light, which we remember in the burning of Janukiah during the eight days of the Feast of Lights: “God brought His light into His House, and to the house and hearts of the Children of Israel” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21b).

We are taught to order the Janukkiah candles from right to left. The first candle on the right represents the first day of the light of Hanukkah; the second candle, by its side, to the left, the second day of the miracle; the third, to the left of the second, the third day... and so on until the last candle left, which marks the eighth and final day of the miracle of Hanukkah.

Lighting candles, in turn, has a unique reverse order: it is done from left to right. Each day, it begins by lighting the added candle for the new day, signaling that another day of miracles, new, was brought into the people of Israel. Day after day we add a candle representing another day of miracles... let us first light that candle, and continue with the ones we lit the previous days in their order.

The reason for this order is almost obvious: by lighting the candle of the day added to the miracle of the previous, we recognize how the dimension of the miracle of light is expanding; how days and days continue to be added, until the eighth, showing the tam year of the work divine on the stage of the liberation of the Jewish people that was achieved in Hanukkah.

In addition to this dimension, typical of the celebration of this holiday that culminates with Janukkah filling our homes and our hearts with light, there is another dimension that is born from the very message of Hanukkah and applies to our entire existence. In the order of lighting the candles of Hanukkah, which celebrates each new day of the miracle, lies a message for all life: every new day we live we stand in front of a miracle – the miracle of life, of our lives and of ours. It’s a miracle that adds to the miracle of “everyday” life. There's nothing everyday about living... We have to recognize the goodness that accompany us every day with gratitude and joy; with emotion and with devotion to those who need us... Life is a gift we carry, and it provides us the stage for what we are and what we can be. Even when life gets tough; even in those stages laden with pain.. the miracle of life continues – demanding us to do our part to recognize its meaning, to navigate through that pain, and find meaning of all the beautiful that life holds despite its challenges and tragedies.

Hanukkah is the feast of the light of life, of recognition of the miracle of our existence and that of our own - those we love and who give meaning to our lives. This Hanukkah we lit the 8 candles of the miracle thanking God for the days that precede and occur to this holiday, in celebration of being alive, and in the pursuit of stocks full of meaning, meaning, achievements, love, of understanding, joy and good.

May we have a Hanukkah of Light - the one of miracle and our own.

With our best wishes,

Jag Hanukkah Saméaj, Macabim, and Jazak ve'ematz!

Rabbi Charles A. Tapestry

Vice-Director General

Macabi World Union

[1] It is of immense importance to emphasize that the Janukkiah must have 8 arms of equal height. Most Janukyots also have another arm, separate, higher, or lower – many medieval Janukyots don’t have that 9th arm. That extra arm (in the Janukiyot that have it) is called a Shamash, and it is merely an instrument for igniting the 8 arms of the Janukiyat—without any other formal meaning.

[2] Son of Matityiahu Cohen ben Yojanan, the octogenarian who called for the liberation of the Jewish people from the Selucid yoke, achieved under the military leadership of his 5 sons: Shim'on, Yojanan, Yehuda, Yonathan and El'azar.

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