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    “Haneiros halalu kodesh heim…
    These lights are sacred…”
    The Chanukah lights are holy and
    have mystical powers. After lighting,
    we linger by the menorah, and take
    some time just basking in the glow of
    the holy lights.
    “Ein lonu reshus l’histamesh bohem,
    elah lir’osom bilvad… The Chanukah
    lights are not for mundane use, but
    only for the sake of the mitzvah…”
    “Lir’osom…. To gaze upon them.”
    To let the lights illuminate our neshamos. But how? What should we be concentrating upon, while watching the
    flickering flames?
    Here are eight thoughts to enrich our
    observance of Chanukah and make
    each of the eight nights meaningful.
    ONE: We are all familiar with the
    miracle of the pach hashemen. The
    single jug of oil that was sufficient for
    just one day, yet lasted for eight full
    One may think that the miracle of
    Chanukah should be celebrated for
    only seven days, being that there was
    adequate oil for the first day. Our rab- bis teach, that just finding that one
    sealed, uncontaminated jug of pure olive oil was itself a miracle.
    Chanukah celebrates the triumph of
    the Jewish neshamah. The story of a
    nation that didn’t allow its inner flame
    to be extinguished. Despite living for
    years under the tyrannical rule of An- tiochus, a ruler who tried to make them
    forget their Torah and assimilate to
    Greek culture, Am Yisroel persevered.
    The miracle was more than finding
    the oil. That there was a group who refused to give up, but searched and
    searched until they found that one jug
    of pure oil. A nation, who even during
    times of spiritual oppression, did not
    allow their emunah and bitachon, their
    faith and trust in HaShem, to falter.
    As we gaze upon the lights, we daven
    that our neshamos be filled with the
    very same emunah.
    TWO: The Hebrew word for fire is
    “aish”, spelled aleph and shin. Aleph is
    for ahava, love; Shin is for simcha, joy.
    Let’s make a personal prayer that our
    hearts and souls be filled with aish, a
    burning fire to keep HaShem’s Torah
    with ahava and simcha. That we reach
    out to our fellow with love and joy.
    “Even a little light dispels a great deal
    of darkness.” (Rabbi Shneur Zalman
    of Liadi) With just a little love, a little
    joy, we can light up a world.
    THREE: Each night of Chanukah,
    we light an additional candle. So too,
    our spiritual light must always increase, must constantly intensify. More
    chesed, more mitzvos, more Torah
    study. It’s easy to become complacent
    and be comfortable with the status quo.
    But, as Jews, we strive to increase kedushah, holiness in the world. Therefore, we add candles, and each night,
    we bask in a brighter light than the
    night before. A lesson to utilize every
    day as an opportunity for growth.
    “In holiness, one must constantly in- crease.”
    (Babylonian Talmud)
    FOUR: Ever wonder why we use a
    shamash, helper candle to light the menorah?
    Typically, when we give of our own
    portion, the remaining piece is diminished. If I were to share my Chanukah
    donut, I am left with a smaller portion.
    No so with fire. The shamash, goes
    from wick to wick, lighting each one,
    yet its own flame is never diminished.
    So too, with Torah knowledge. When
    we share knowledge with others, our
    own is never decreased. In fact, the reverse is true. Torah discussion
    amongst friends, studying with a
    chavrusah, increases each one’s
    Within the word Chanukah, we
    find the word chinuch, education.
    Let’s be inspired by of all those
    who continued studying Torah,
    refusing to obey Antiochus’ decree, to increase our Torah study
    and performance of mitzvos, despite all of the challenges and
    negative influences of society
    around us.
    “One candle can kindle many
    candles without being diminished.” (Medrash Rabbah)
    FIVE: “Kedei l’hodos
    u’le’hallel…. To express thanks
    and praise.” Chanukah lights are
    lights of gratitude. The prayer Haneiros Halalu tells us to look at
    the candles and express gratitude
    to, and praise HaShem. To live
    with an attitude of gratitude. To
    appreciate life and see every day
    as a gift from HaShem.
    Each of us has our own “bucket
    list” of what we want out of life.
    As we reflect upon the Chanukah
    lights, let’s trade in our bucket list
    for a gratitude list. We have so
    much to say Thank You HaShem
    for…. We just have to recognize
    SIX: Chanukah comes during
    the darkest days of the year, when
    the days are the shortest, and the
    nights are longest. For the Jewish
    people living under Greek oppressors, the times weren’t just
    physically dark; they were spiritually dark as well.
    The Hebrew word for darkness is
    choshech. The very same letters –
    ches, shin, chof – also form the Hebrew word shochach – shin, chof, ches,
    meaning to forget. Unfortunately, the
    Hellenists, those of the Jewish people
    who assimilated to Greek lifestyle and
    culture, temporarily forgot – shochach
    – their Jewish identity. They descended to an abyss of choshech – darkness.
    But within the word shochach, is the
    word koach – chof and ches – strength.
    The strength to return. The strength to
    once again see the light. No matter
    how far one may have drifted, HaShem
    always gives us the koach, strength to
    return. When we light the Chanukah
    candles, we connect to HaShem. No
    matter how many mistakes we may
    have made in the past, how many re- grets we live with, we can always re- connect to our Father. That should be a
    take-away for each of us from the mir- acle of Chanukah.
    SEVEN: The neshamah is compared
    to pure olive oil. To produce olive oil,
    we squeeze and press the olive until oil
    flows. That is the story of Am Yisroel.
    Throughout our history, we have be
    “pressed,” numerous times. Yet, we always emerged stronger and more resilient, like pure olive oil.
    The miracle of Chanukah, which we
    celebrate for eight days is three-fold.
    The Hebrew for eight is shemonah,
    which is comprised of the same letters
    as the word neshamah, soul and hashemen, the oil. In essence, all three are
    one. The miracle of oil burning for
    eight days; the miracle of the pintele
    yid within each neshamah, a spirit that
    burns on and on, and the purity of the
    soul that enables us to survive the ages.
    EIGHT: The Talmud (Megilah 29a)
    teaches that the Shechinah, the presence of HaShem exists in the holy
    spaces we create. The menorah we
    light transforms our home into our
    sanctuary – a mikdash me’at. We place
    the menorah by the window or door,
    persumei nissah, letting the world
    know of the miracle of Chanukah. On
    Chanukah, we light up our homes, we
    light up our cities, we can even light up
    the world.
    The time we kindle the Chanukah
    lights is a most auspicious time to daven to HaShem. We daven for ourselves,
    our families, our friends and neigh- bors, our people. We all have some- thing to daven for. As the flames rise
    upwards, may our tefillos accompany
    them heavenward.