Even after full independence was attained, our festival remained a commemoration of the miracle of lights, not of political supremacy. The purpose of the Hasmonean uprising was not power, it was light of Torah, mitzvot, learning, vibrant and dynamic Jewish homes, synagogues and schools.
The Hebrew root of “Chanukah” means “dedication.” Another word formed from this root is education. Just as the Hasmoneans rededicated and purified the Temple, every Jewish family can “repurify” its own sanctuary or home by providing a good Jewish education to its members.
Only children who learn primary Jewish sources, who study Jewish history, tradition and heritage and who appreciate their ancestors and identify with their language and customs, can be expected to be dedicated – even if they merely see the lighted menorah.
The Kedushat Levi concludes that the Talmud’s statement regarding the law of Chanukah – hadlakah osah mitzvah (the actual lighting of the fire is the essence of the mitzvah) – has as its ultimate goal to create fire, excitement, enthusiasm and yearning to create light. Jewish education is the spark to sparking that contagious fire. Only light conquers darkness.
It is time we rededicate ourselves to the real purpose of Chanukah. The lights of Chanukah were meant to banish our inner darkness. It is time we emerge from the shadows and illuminate our world. This year, do your share to let the light in.