Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

We have officially entered winter. The days are short and the nights are long. Here in Israel we don’t feel the cold and rainy weather yet, however the long dark nights remind us that winter is soon upon us.

What is really hidden behind those long nights? What can we learn from the month of Kislev which at its end we all kindle the Chanukah lights?

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All the holidays begin at night just like Shabbat, but their beauty can be seen and experienced mostly during the light. Whether it’s Purim, Pesach, Sukkot, and the high holidays.

What is this light that shines at night? Why do all of our holy holidays begin only once it is dark, and why is the light of Chanukah so strong that it gives us the strength to get through all of our greatest fears despite the darkness all around.

The year of a Jew begins with the preparation for the high holidays with Slichot. Slichot are prayers that are recited at midnight – chatzot, the darkest part of the night, in which we beg and ask our Master for forgiveness for all we have upset Him throughout the year.

This is done before the New Year begins, and a second chance is once again given to the Jewish people, to live and worship Hashem in the best way possible.

We stand like angels before G-d on Yom Kippur and we rejoice with Hashem in our Sukkah all week long. We once again dance every night in the Simchat Bais Hashoeva, and finally end all the beautiful holidays and prayers with Hoshana Raba which once again is expressed by staying awake at night and learning and praying special prayers to seal our blessings for the New Year ahead.

We enter the month of Cheshvan with the strength and happiness we gathered during the holidays, but by the end of the month it eventually wears off.

Bringing us into the month of Kislev which is pretty lonely. Not only are the holidays far behind us, the light of day is short, and the nights are long and cold.

When it’s dark we tend to look around and look for some companion, some light, some love. At night we tuck our children into bed and give them extra love and attention. During the day we send them off to experience the world and at night we sit by their side so that they are not alone. We can hug them after all they went through during the day.

The night has healing powers. When we see less Hashem can do more.

A baby develops from just a small egg and a seed in the darkness of the womb for nine months. It is said that an angel holds a candle inside during these months and teaches the child all the Torah.

Rabbi Carlbach once said that sometimes in order to see, we must close our eyes. When we love someone and want to kiss them we close our eyes, enabling the other person to really see all the love we want to give over to them.

It’s written about the great visionary of Lublin, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Halevy Horowitz, that he used to cover his eyes as to not see forbidden sights, and this enabled him to see clearly the ways of Hashem and pass the light of the Torah onto others in the best way.

We see that actually the night and the darkest moments that seem to our naked eye dark, are actually the essence of the light.

Even when G-d created the world it was first dark and only then did the day come.

The holiday of Chanukah is shining the little light into the long and dark nights of the winter.

It’s that same little candle that the angel held over each and every one of us while we were not yet born, it’s that little candle that we search for the chametz with erev Pesach. It’s the little candle we light every Shabbat when we great the holy Shabbat when it enters. It’s the candles we hold as we escort our beloved children to their chuppah on their wedding night. It’s the little candle at a romantic dinner, and it’s the little candle we light when we are remembering our loved ones who are no longer with us.

We don’t need the sun or a projector to see the light. All we need is a small light in the darkness to help us see what is really necessary.

As we approach the holiday of the light of Chanukah, we realize that during this special time period Hashem wants to sit with His loved ones and whisper words of love to us, to give us hope strength and support to hold on, even though things seem unclear and difficult.

Hashem wants to let us know that the biggest secrets can be seen only by the light of a candle. And if we can see the glory of the small light that the little wicks give off, we will surly see the great light of the days to come when the whole world will be filled with the light of Hashem and there will be no more darkness.

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Michal can be reached at michal@jewishpress.com