web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Clarifying Truths Of Chanukah


Ever wonder why the Jewish New Year begins with three back-to-back-to back holidays and then no biblical holidays for another six months?

At the onset of each New Year, God, out of His love for us, gives us tools to clear away any obstruction to coming close to Him. Three main stumbling blocks diminish our instinctual yearning for our Father in Heaven and each holiday addresses a different one.

Chanukah, the first rabbinic holiday following Sukkot, celebrates the rededication by the Maccabees of the Temple. The holiday incorporates the lessons of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot and illuminates the synergy between them.

The first obstacle to union with God is confusion. If we do not acknowledge who created us and why, what will become of our relationship with our Creator? Crowning God our King and Creator is a central theme of Rosh Hashanah. The holiday frames the question, “How can I live my life as God intended when He created me?”

On Chanukah, we thank God for saving us from a threat to our souls rather than to our bodies. The Greeks wanted the Jews to assimilate and, as the rampant assimilation of our own day makes painfully clear, identifying a spiritual menace is much more difficult than recognizing a physical one. The clarity of the Maccabees enabled them to understand what was worth standing up for. When we have clarity, everything in life is viewed in terms of whether it brings us closer to our Father and Creator or farther away.

The second obstacle is contamination. When a person sins, spiritual atherosclerosis sets in. Sometimes our connection to God becomes so clogged that we no longer feel His presence in our lives. Yom Kippur, through repentance, teaches us how to clear away accumulated impurities. Do not be discouraged; even initiating the process can kindle a longing for God.

Part of the Chanukah story is the discovery of one ritually pure jug of oil, still suitable for lighting the Menorah in the Temple. The oil – only enough for one day – miraculously lasted for eight. Each one of us is a miniature temple housing the holy of holies, our souls. By living with this awareness we will distance ourselves from contamination. When we search for purity, as the Maccabees did, and allow only that into our lives, we become vessels fit to receive God’s miracles.

The third obstacle is bitterness. When life does not materialize in the way we desire, we can get angry with God. Sukkot, the festival of joy, occurs during the harvest season, a time of abundance. Part of the holiday’s festivity comes from our appreciation of the many blessings God has given us. A person is unable to feel bitterness and gratitude at the same time; the choice is therefore ours. Sukkot calls out to us, “Choose joy!”

In a study, Dr. Robert A. Emmons found that gratitude can increase our happiness by 25 percent. A spiritual-based exercise is to ask yourself, “What has greatly enhanced the quality of my life?” General categories include: being Jewish, family, friends, emotional/physical health, money, possessions, food, shelter and clothing. Pick an example of one of these and think about how God gave this specifically to you out of His love for you. Talk to God, preferably out loud, and tell Him how you have benefited from it and how grateful you are to Him. Now, bring to mind again how your Father gave this specifically to you because He loves you. Preferably, repeat this process using three different quality of life enhancers.

One benefit of this practice is a deep warm feeling of being loved by your Father. In addition, this exercise can lead to the awareness that just as the overt blessings in our lives are given to us by God because He loves us, everything else is also given out of God’s love. Though we do not know how something specific is a manifestation of His love, the fact that God does love us is something we can see, feel and know.

Chanukah, a festival of thanksgiving, does not mark the end of the struggle against the Greeks; the fighting continued for another 22 years. Why didn’t the Jews wait until the end of the war to celebrate? Because they knew the secret of gratitude – to be grateful for every blessing, regardless of what else is going on in our lives. Each day, no matter how bleak, contains within it a kernel for which we can be appreciative; a portal to joy and feeling God’s love.

The common denominator between clarity, purity and joy is the transcendence of our egos. We can only find objective clarity by going beyond our limited intelligence and following the Creator’s wisdom contained in His Torah. In the Torah, God outlines for His children what leads to purity and what leads to the opposite. Joy also comes from transcending the ego and being grateful to God for His love and blessings.

After having experienced the beauty of the first three biblical holidays of the year, Chanukah reminds us to become their teachings; to live with clarity, to radiate purity and to embody joy. Actualizing these states empowers us to transcend the obstacles of this finite world and unite with the Infinite.

God created every one of us with the ability to attain transcendence; that is why He put us here. Dig deeper in Torah (clarity); reach further in observance (purity); call out in grateful prayer (joy) and with God’s help you will succeed.

Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City.

About the Author: Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City. Visit his blog at yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Clarifying Truths Of Chanukah”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Brandeis University junior Khadijah Lynch who tweeted she has "no sympathy" for slain NYPD officers, shown here on "Wake Up With Tayla Andre, "Dec. 24, 2014.
A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis
Latest Indepth Stories
Middle-East-map

Is not Israel’s policy of “territory for peace” with Arab leaders criminally irresponsible?

Israel Palestine Flag

Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies

School of Athens by Raphael (Aristotle on right holding his work, "Ethics")

2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”

Ben-Tsvi-122614

“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

More Articles from Yaakov Weiland
Your Sin

Can you recall any time you hurt someone, perhaps a friend, neighbor, family member, fellow congregant or business associate?

During the High Holidays we increase the number of our prayers. We acknowledge God’s kingship, beseech Him to forgive us and ask Him to grant us a new year filled with blessings. How do we make these prayers sincere and effective?

We are now in the Three Weeks, a time of national mourning for the Jewish people. Of the numerous tragedies that occurred throughout history during this period, the central one we grieve is the destruction of both Temples; they were destroyed on Tisha B’Av, the culmination of the Three Weeks.

On Shavuot we celebrate God giving us the Torah, represented by the Ten Commandments. We will explore them here through a broad lens, showing how they apply to our daily lives. We will focus on the First Commandment, the foundation, and the seven commandments phrased in the negative, which tell us what not to do, discussing both sides: the negative (avoiding what God hates) and the hidden side, the positive (doing what He loves).

In my Nov. 26 op-ed article, “The Clarifying Truths of Chanukah,” I explored how clarity, purity and joy bring us close to God and to living a meaningful life. If they are so essential, their potential must exist within our spiritual DNA. I suggest it does; we inherited that potential from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Ever wonder why the Jewish New Year begins with three back-to-back-to back holidays and then no biblical holidays for another six months?

The ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has been declared the worst oil spill in American history. It occurred when an offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing eleven crew members and causing an oil pipe, 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, to rupture. BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, is the fourth largest company, of any type, in the world. Shockingly, BP’s efforts, backed by America, have not stopped the flow.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-clarifying-truths-of-chanukah/2010/11/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: