Hanukkah is about giving thanks to Gd for His wonders and miracles.
Today, we offer heartfelt thanks to G-d for the freedom of religious practice that our wonderful country provides. This is not unlike the freedom won by the Maccabees at the time of Hanukkah.
Each of us, regardless of what religion we practice, is a partner with Gd and it’s a partnership which began at the dawn of history, with the goal to make the world a home for Gd and a place of justice, compassion, human dignity and the sanctity of life.
These are hardly religious ideals. These are ideals for life.
The Hanukkah candles symbolize this partnership.
When we light the Hanukkah candles in our homes, they represent the light of goodness & Gdliness that warms our hearts and illuminates our lives even during trying times.
They emphasize our common bond with each other, not just our fellow Jews, but also our fellow Americans, and indeed the entire family of humanity; we are all one – bound together with the common gift of life; endowed to each of us by the One Creator of life; who entrusted us all with the common purpose: The story is told that when the Maccabees came into the desecrated Holy Temple they could not find any pure oil for the menorah. All the oil had been defiled by the Greeks. Miraculously, they found one small jug of pure, holy, un-defiled oil, enough to illuminate the Temple for one night.
A miracle took place. The tiny jug of oil lasted for 8 nights.
In Proverbs (20:37) we read: “The human spirit is the light of G-d.” Every one of us has a divine soul within us that shines brightly.
At times we might feel uninspired spiritually - that our oil has been defiled. We might feel that we’ve become too materialized, that we’ve lost our sensitivity to the spiritual, in our daily experience.
Within every one of us there is a small jug of pure, holy oil.
Our Gdly soul, the spark within us, the part of us that feels warm inside every time we do a good deed; the part deep inside of us that gets upset each time we hear of a tragedy.
That jug of pure, holy oil is our essence, it’s who we are, and it’s un-defileable. And although it may be small in quantity, it is a miraculous little jug, which can light up our lives and brighten up our daily experience with spirituality.
Friends, let’s make a miracle in 2023! As we each kindle our own Hanukkah menorahs in our homes, let us be inspired to add more good deeds to our lives, allowing that inner spark, that tiny jug of pure oil, to light up our inner Hanukkah menorahs to shine and illuminate our lives with Gdliness and goodness.
From my family to yours, I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah!
Rabbi Mickey Baum is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth-Am, the Reform Jewish Congregation of Merrick and Bellmore.