Michael Laitman, On Quora: “What is Chanukah?“
Chanukah (also spelled “Hanukkah,” Heb. “חנוכה”) , starting on 25 Kislev (start-to-mid December), is also known as the Festival of Lights. It designates the start of our perception and sensation of the one, unique and unified force of nature, the first crossing of the boundary separating our ego from the altruistic force of nature. Hanukkah’s concepts and customs—the war of the Maccabees and the Greeks, the Hanukkah miracle, the candle, light, oil and wick—all connect to the crossing of this boundary between egoistic and altruistic perception.
In order to cross this boundary, we need to rise above our egoistic desires. The war of the Maccabees and the Greeks takes place inside the person, between a person’s egoistic rationalizations and reasoning, which the Greeks represent, and the inclination to unify by inviting nature’s unifying force into our connections, which the Maccabees represent.
However, since egoism is human nature, how can we find the ability to overcome it? Moreover, any desire to unify, love and give to others is minuscule compared to egoism, which incessantly seeks to receive self-aimed enjoyment.
Enter the Hanukkah miracle…
Our perseverance to unify above egoism draws the unifying force of love and bestowal dwelling in nature, also called “the light” in the wisdom of Kabbalah. Despite our very small desire to unite, love and give compared to our egoistic desires that comprise our entire nature, if we support each other so that we keep ourselves adhered to our effort to unite, we eventually arrive at a helpless state: we feel a complete inability to rise above our ego, i.e., to defeat the Greeks, and at that point, a miraculous light sparks up—an appearance of the unifying force of love and bestowal dwelling in nature, which grants us the strength we need in order to overcome our egoistic desires with a unifying, loving and giving tendency. That is the meaning of the Maccabees winning the war against the Greeks.
We prosper when we, on one hand, feel a necessity to win the war, but on the other hand, find ourselves out of options and in despair, i.e., under the attack of the Greeks. While under attack, we feel like we need to keep fighting with all everything we have, however with no success in sight. In any case, due to sensing a responsibility to win the war, we do not throw in the towel, because it would be like agreeing to be locked away in the ego’s solitary confinement.
At that point, the miracle happens—the illumination of the light of unity, love and bestowal. It charges us with its omnipresent energy, and we win the war.
The Hanukkah war is internal, taking place on the boundary between egoistic desires versus those of unity, love and bestowal. Our egoistic desires and thoughts are what filters our perception of the boundless force of love and bestowal surrounding and permeating us, and we revel in the revelation of this force when we win the battle for unification above our egoistic desires.