My article “Beware! These Hanukkah Insights Require Some Mental and Emotional Effort” published in The Times of Israel.
As we light candles, eat soufganiyot and spin dreidels this Hanukkah, here’s an infographic to give us deeper insights into the holiday’s customs and concepts. Since Hanukkah discusses the initial entrance into a new, vast reality of positive connection among people, then in addition to the points in the infographic, here are some further elaborations…
Hanukkah, the Festival of Light = the Festival of Positive Connection
The inner meaning of “light” means positive connections among people. It has nothing to do with the light of the sun, or candlelight, or even the light of contentment we feel upon resolving some great doubt. To bring connection among people is the role of the Jewish people, i.e. to be “a light for the nations.”
We Jews need to first realize positive connection among each other, via connection-enriching education, and by doing so, be a conduit for this light to flow through to the world. Hanukkah is a special time when we Jews can contemplate what it means, for us and for the world, if we realized our role of being “a light for the nations” in today’s turbulent times.
Hanukkah = the First Parking Spot on a Roadtrip to Love
By connecting in a positive way, we mend our shattered, egoistic connections. It’s a process, and Hanukkah is its first stop (Hanu [park/stop], Koh [here]). It symbolizes not doing to others what we hate. This process of correction continues until we reach “love your friend as yourself.”
We Jews both have the mission and the means to pioneer and pass this correction process onto the rest of the world. At Hanukkah, we stop at this juncture where we connect by “not doing to others what we hate.” It’s not yet love, but it’s a significant step in that direction.
The Greeks = The Ego
The Greeks are a specific discernment of our ego, where we rationally justify why we don’t need to put in efforts to connect with each other. It has nothing to do with Greek nationality or culture.
If we, on the contrary, awaken the Jewish tendency to unite, trying to connect above the ego that tells us otherwise (the Greeks), we’ll start feeling the light of positive connection shine in the world, an extraordinary sensation of a much fuller reality than we’ve ever experienced in our daily lives. It’s that special reality, which is locked behind our efforts to connect to each other, that we Jews have the key to unlock for ourselves and for the world.
The Miracle of Hanukkah = The Awakening of the Desire to Connect
While the Greeks, our egos, tell us every good reason why we don’t need to try and connect with each other, if we put in efforts above its rationale, finding even the smallest will to connect to each other, that connective desire is considered the miracle of Hanukkah. It’s miraculous because it doesn’t exist in the egoistic human nature. It’s a spark of desire that awakens in us, and if we cherish it like a precious candlelight that we want to protect from wind and anything else that could put it out, then we can let that candlelight last, and ignite the process of fixing our connections.
Beyond the rather childlike customs and stories, Hanukkah marks a very serious initial stage in the process of fixing our connections: “Don’t do to others what you hate.” While going through the motions of the Hanukkah customs and songs, why not also pay attention to our attitudes to each other? Are we making an effort to connect to each other positively, above any differences between us?
Let us use this Hanukkah to realize the significant step it represents toward our becoming “a light for the nations,” i.e. becoming an example of positive connection for the world.