Chanukah Insights by Rabbi Label Lam - The Jewish Voice
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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Chanukah Insights by Rabbi Label Lam

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8 – The Symbol of Eternity

Here are eight ideas to ponder about Chanukah – little points of light that I hope may brighten the days ahead.

1. The word for candles, NER, Nun-Reish, stands for Nefesh (soul) and Ruach (spirit). The numerical value of NER is 250 which equals the 248 limbs dedicated to the 248 positive action Mitzvos plus Ahava-Love and Yira- fear. (Sefas Emes)

2. Actually a candle represents all the Mitzvos as King Solomon said, “A candle is a Mitzvah and Torah is light!” Chanukah is a time for refocusing our attention and committing ourselves to what’s ultimately important-Mitzvos -growing night after night one step at a time! (Shelah HaKodesh)

3. The Talmud tells us the following about a candle, “Ner L’Echod- Ner L’Meah”- “A candle for one is a candle for one hundred!”(Shabbos 122A) A candle is the paradigm of ruchnios- spirituality. Physical things are a “zero-sum”,finite by definition. The more of a pizza pie I eat the less there is for you. However, if I learn Torah or love HASHEM more it does not detract from your ability to do the same. It adds! When one improves others are improved too. When lighting from one candle to another, even the one that is doing the lighting is never diminished. Spiritual things are not divisible, they tend to multiply.

4. The Chanukah Menorah is modeled after the Menorah in the Temple whose light was holy. We are not allowed to use the Chanukah lights either. In anticipation of a protracted exile our sages saw fit that we should all take a “souvenir” from the Holy Temple, Ner Ish U’Beiso, as when the Jewish people came down to Egypt, Yaakov Ish U’Beiso…each with his household! The Jewish household is the primary survival unit in exile. Every family survives with a slice of the Menorah which represents Torah scholarship and wisdom.

5. Similarly, ten of Rebbe Nachman’s students split up the Rebbe’s ornate chair as WWII was about to bludgeon European Jewry. They pledged to reunite in Jerusalem and reconstitute the chair of the Rebbe. Miraculously, they each survived and with their piece of chair and they were able to reassemble the chair. So too, we are reminded by the Menorah of where it is we broke up from 2000 years ago and to where we are all heading soon to reconnect the lights of all the generations!

6. Torah is light as we mentioned earlier. Light continues to expel darkness at 186,000 miles per second forever. It never tires. Light is forever! So too the Torah we have learned is a ray of eternity that never ceases. (Maharal)

7. In the Talmud’s account of Chanukah it is recorded that the Greeks contaminated all the oil in the sanctuary. After the victory of the holy Jewish army it says that they searched and only found one jar of oil that still had the seal of Kohen Gadol.If they contaminated all the oil then how did they find a jar? There is an indestructible jar in the heart of our people that can never be sullied or compromised. From that point of purity everyone and everything can be rebuilt. It requires, however an honest search to find it. (Sefas Emes)

8. Eight is not just another single step after seven. Seven is the stuff of this world which was completed in seven days. It’s no mistake the letters for the word – Shemona – 8 is the same as the letters for Neshama-soul which has the same letters for Mishne – which is the building block of the Oral Torah. The eight floats like oil over nature – Teva (literally – sink).The word oil, Shemen uses these letters too. Eight is beyond. Once we hit eight we keep on “going up in holiness and not going down” (Shabbos 21B) Chanuka never ends! It only begins! On Chanukah we all strive for the world of 8 – the symbol of infinity!

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