Thursday, December 29, 2005

FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: The Depths of Who We Are (Mikeitz - Chanukah)


Kislev 28, 5766 * December 29, 2005


Parshat Mikeitz - Chanukah

The Depths of Who We Are
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

There is a little secret about the life of the Jewish people through the ages. Don't let it out, keep it quiet. I will just whisper it to you: sometimes, other nations or political forces, or even cultural ideologies have tried to dominate us, control us, or worse. And what happened? Despite tragic losses, we have survived, thank G-d.

In fact, in a paradoxical way, we have sometimes grown from the experience. It led us to as deeper appreciation of who we are. Deep down, every Jewish man and woman is utterly dedicated to G-d. He or she may not seem to be dedicated to anything spiritual. The dominant focus in life might sometimes seem to be the opposite. Yet, deep down, the Jew is dedicated to Judaism, and to the Divine reality which Jewish teachings reveal.

Chanukah is a prime example of such an experience. Chanukah is a festival relating to a time when the Jewish people reached a very low point. We were in the Syrian-Greek Empire, and among the Jewish people there was widespread assimilation to Greek values. Many of the leading personalities in Jerusalem and elsewhere had adopted Greek names and the Greek form of idol worship.

At the final stage of this process, the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus banned Judaism entirely. However, we rallied from this point of darkness, inspired by the small and totally dedicated group of Maccabees. We fought physically against the Syrian-Greek oppressors, and we also battled spiritually to regain our unique Jewish ethos. The Chanukah festival commemorates both victories. In the morning prayers every day of Chanukah, including this Shabbat, we sing Hallel, thanking G-d for the military victory.

In addition each evening we light the Chanukah lights, commemorating the miracle of the oil which signified a Divine response to our spiritual struggle and victory.

The Chanukah events in ancient Israel signify the way we reached into our innermost depths, to the very essence of the Jewish soul. We were not simply brave men and women; we were spiritually inspired and were able to reach to the Divine. This inner spiritual victory was expressed in the miracle of the oil in the Golden Menorah in the Temple: the oil sufficient only for one day, burnt for eight days.

This explains an interesting point about the way we celebrate the Chanukah festival. Yes, of course, we light a Chanukah lamp, each evening adding another candle till on the last night - Sunday January 1st this year - we kindle eight lights. The Talmud tells us that there are different ways of lighting the Chanukah lights. One way is "standard", lighting one candle per household each night. A second way is "mehadrin", more careful and pious, in which each person in the household lights their own candle each night. The third way is "mehadrin of the mehadrin", the pious of the pious. The Talmud then describes precisely the way that we light the Chanukah lamp today. This deepest level is the standard for the entire Jewish people [2].

We might not think of ourselves as falling into that category, of being the "pious of the pious". Yet, all over the world, in all branches of Jewish practice, that is how we light the Chanukah lamp: as the mehdarin of the mehadrin, the most dedicated and the most concerned. Because Chanukah taught us who we are, deep down: utterly dedicated to G-d [3].


1. Talmud Shabbat 21b.
2. Based freely on the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Likkutei Sichot vol.25, pp.249-250.


Chanukah is here!

Our extensive Chanukah website has how-to’s, stories, lessons, games and even recipes! It's sure to make your holiday more meaningful and insightful! All this at:

Tip: Join a public menorah lighting or Chanukah event in your area too!

Send Chanukah Greeting Cards to friends and family:

New! Featured Chanukah Videos:

SEASONS: A Chanukah Thought:
MIRACLES: A Chanukah Film:
MIRACLE LIGHTS: An Animated Production:

Wishing you and your family a Happy Chanukah!


By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London

Brought to you by

For more Parshah study, please visit:


** Enjoyed this email? Please help us continue sharing the
study of Torah and Jewish traditions:

Dedicate or sponsor an email to mark your special occasion!
Please click here:

Please click here to make a donation to

** To subscribe to more email lists please click here:

** To be removed from this email list please click here:,8,261645,0,217
If you would just like your email suspended and resumed at a later
date, please let us know here:

** You are subscribed as: If your e-mail address is changing
please send us your new email address here:

Part of the Chabad Online Network

A division of Chabad Lubavitch Media Center
770 Eastern Parkway * Brooklyn, NY * 11213


No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails