A few thoughts, not only for our children, about Hanukkah and the flames that we kindle:
The Hanukkah flames remind us of TRADITION.Just as our parents and grandparents and all the generations who came before kindled these flames,so we do the same as we affirm the values and ideals that bring light to our world.
The Hanukkah flames remind us of HOPE. Just as but one flame can extinguish the darkness of a room, so each of us represents hope for our world. Yes, we are a people of hope, believing that together, we can fix that which is broken in our world. Together we hope for a time when people will have learned howto live together in peace, respecting and honoring one another for the divine that is within each of us.
And yes, the Hanukkah flames remind us of a MIRACLE.The Maccabees recaptured the Temple and sought to rekindle the holy light. Legend tells us that they found enough oil to burn for only one day, but it burned for eight days. But I believe that there is an even greater miracle that we celebrate during Hanukkah. That even as we Jews are so small in number, we have caused Judaism to survive throughout history as our values and ideals teach us that the highest holiness lies in acts of kindness and the pursuit of justice.
One of our great sages taught that our world is filled with miracles, though we don’t always see or appreciate them. He said that “we take our hand and cover our eyes and become blind to the miracles that surround us.”
For me, the ultimate “miracle” is life itself, and our ability to become something more tomorrow than what we are today. Or as one of the children of our school told me: “A miracle is something that happens that you don’t expect to happen.”
And so the message of Hanukkah: “Don’t let the lights go out.” They are sacred and precious, and we’re all needed to keep the flames of Judaism burning for they are flames of HOPE for our world.
I wish you a meaningful Hanukkah and a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi David Greenberg