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    The Gemara teaches that Hanukah
    was established
    as a time of הלל
    והודאה” – praise
    a n d thanksgiving.” What exactly
    is the difference between הלל and הודאה
    ?And why is specifically Hanukah a time
    for both “praise” and “thanksgiving”? Hanukah celebrates two miracles – the military victory over the Greeks, and
    the miracle of the oil which lasted
    for eight days. These two miracles
    were very different from one another. The miracle of the oil was
    truly “miraculous,” in the sense that
    the laws of nature were overturned.
    The war, however, was not overtly
    “miraculous.” It was a miracle only
    for those who look for miracles,
    who can see Hashem in the natural
    world. Nothing supernatural happened to allow the Jews to defeat
    the Greeks, but when we reflect on
    a small, untrained army defeating
    the enormous Greek army, we recognize it as a miracle. הלל refers to
    praising Hashem for supernatural
    events. This is why we recite Hallel
    on Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot –
    because all these holidays celebrate
    supernatural miracles. And we recite Hallel on Hanukah, as well, to
    celebrate the supernatural miracle
    of the oil. But Hanukah is also a
    time of הודאה – thanking Hashem
    for the “natural” events. We look
    at the Jews’ victory over the Geeks
    and we recognize that this, too, was
    a miracle, even though nothing
    supernatural occurred. The word
    הודאה means not only “thanksgiving,” but also “agreeing.” We are
    expected to not only thank Hashem, but to AGREE with Hashem,
    to say to Him, “I fully agree with
    everything You do, because I trust
    that everything You do is exactly
    what I need.” הודאה means recognizing that Hashem never makes a
    mistake, that everything He does is
    PRECISELY what is supposed to
    happen. Maybe this is why Hashem
    gives us moments when we feel
    jealous, when we think our lives are
    fine until we hear of somebody who
    has something we don’t. It could be
    somebody whose friend’s children
    are getting married easily, while he
    or she has a couple of older singles.
    It could be somebody whose friend
    or sibling suddenly makes a huge
    deal or lands a great job and is making a fortune of money. It could be
    somebody whose friend’s kids all
    excel in school while his or her kids
    struggle. We all have times when we
    hear of somebody else’s success or
    good fortune and it makes us feel
    jealous and uncomfortable. Hashem
    WANTS us to have those moments
    – because they force us to “agree”
    with Him, to place our trust in Him,
    to say, “I don’t understand, but I
    trust that I have what I’m supposed
    to have.” This is what הודאה really
    means. A man once came to one of
    the Hassidic Rebbes, the Divreh
    Hayim, complaining that somebody
    opened a store right across the street from
    his store, selling the same merchandise,
    threatening his livelihood. The man demanded that the Rebbe place a curse upon
    his competitor. The Rebbe refused. “You
    know what?” the Rebbe said. “You’re just
    like a horse!” He explained that when a
    horse leans down to drink water, it first
    stamps on the ground. The reason is because it sees its reflection in the water, and
    thinks there’s another horse trying to drink
    its water. And so it stamps its feet to push
    the other horse back. Eventually, the kicking pushes enough dirt into the water to
    obscure the reflection, and then the horse
    drinks. When we feel jealous of, or threatened by, another person’s success, we are
    like a horse. We think that this person is
    trying to take away our water, when in
    truth, Hashem always gives each and every person exactly what he is supposed
    to have. The Rebbe said, “We are going
    to drink the same water no matter what.
    But we decide whether it will be clean
    and tasty, or whether it will be muddy and
    dirty.” Hashem is always going to give us
    precisely what we are supposed to have. If
    we “agree” with Him, firmly placing our
    trust in Him, then we will enjoy everything
    we have. If not, if we allow other people’s
    good fortune to upset us, then our gifts will
    be “muddy” and not enjoyable. The choice
    is entirely up to us.