All the Torah we shared is leading us back to the same thing: Total Emunah in Hashem; Ain Od Milvado consciousness; Hashem Echad. (I will email an outline of what we spoke about through Shira- please contact her if you do not receive it).
We have three Yomim Tovim according to the Torah – Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos.
The Sages enacted two more Yomim Tovim – Chanukah and Purim. The Yomim Tovim of the Torah are seven days each that become eight. Sukkos is seven days, plus Shemini Atzeres. Pesach has seven days, but it really has eight, because the Ramban says that Shavuos is the Shemini Atzeres of Pesach.
Chanukah, though, is eight days to start with.
What is the difference between the Yomim Tovim of the Torah, which are seven days that really total for eight, and Chanukah, which is eight days to start out with?
Chazal say that when a person smiles at someone, it is better than giving him a cup of milk. Why? This is because when you smile at someone, you radiate a light towards him, and this is more illuminating than even the white color of the milk.
This is Chanukah: it is a light that radiates outward. The oil of Chanukah which we light with is that illumination that radiates outwards.
Oil is shemen in Hebrew, which is similar to the word shemoneh – eight. This alludes to how the oil of Chanukah, which we light to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah, continues to be lit long after the miracle happened.
Chanukah is a light that transcends time – it continues to radiate.
We aren’t commemorating Chanukah because it was a miracle in history, but because it is a time of light, even now.
Chanukah is eight days, hinting to the fact that it is above time.
There are seven days of the week, and the Yomim Tovim are seven days; seven represents regular time.
But Chanukah is eight days, because it reveals a light that is above time.
Hashem created the world to be seven days. But if we count the Shabbos that Hashem started out the world with, we get eight days.
On a deeper understanding, there are really eight days in Creation – the Shabbos of before Creation, the six days of the week, and then Shabbos of after Creation.
The light of Chanukah, which we light for eight days, reveals this “eight-day” concept. Normally, time consists of seven days, but the deeper aspect of Creation is that there is an eighth day – a spiritual light that is above time.
We find in halacha that if Chanukah begins on Friday night, we light 30 minutes earlier than sundown on Friday. How can this be? How are we able to light for Chanukah when it isn’t Chanukah yet? We aren’t able to bring the korbon pesach early. So why are we able to light for Chanukah earlier than its time?
The answer to this mystery is because Chanukah is above time.
What exactly is this special light of Chanukah, which transcends time?
It is really the light of Emunah (faith in Hashem).
Emunah is a power that is not limited to any time.
Emunah says to us that what you see as the beginning isn’t really the beginning, because there was something that came before it. You see seven days of the week, but there was a Shabbos that came before it.
(This also alludes to the “letter aleph” which Hashem used to create the world with, before He created it using the letter beis. We only see Creation starting from the letter “beis,” Beraishis, and we do not see what preceded it – the letter aleph).
During our regular seven-day time period, we can reach the “letter aleph” of before Creation, though utilizing the seven days. But on Chanukah, we start already from that point preceding Creation.
Avraham Avinu illuminated the world through his Emunah – how? He radiated that power of Emunah, which came before Creation, onto the seven days of the world that are after Creation. He used that letter “aleph” which was around before Creation – the light of perfect Emunah in the Creator.
This is why some say that in the future, Chanukah will not cease, while all the other festivals will cease. It is because the power which is Chanukah – the light of the perfect Emunah, which existed even before Creation – can never cease.
Now that we have seen this concept, let us see how this applies to our very soul.
Any light which exists in the world seems to be coming from the sun. But from where is the sun getting its light from? It gets its light from the heavenly spheres above it, which Hashem sustains.
The light of our Chanukah Menorah seems to be coming from this world, but all light comes from Heaven, so we are really using a spiritual light that is Heavenly.
That is the meaning behind the halachah why it is forbidden to benefit from the Chanukah lights. It is really because the light gets its source from Heaven, and thus we are not allowed to use it.
Normally, we are allowed to benefit from light. We were also allowed to benefit from the light that shined by the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah.
But on Chanukah, we are prohibited from benefiting from the lights.
There is a special halachah that on Chanukah, it has to be recognizable from the street who is lighting the Menorah. This hints to how we must recognize the True Source of the Chanukah lights – “Who” is really lighting this Menorah….
The possuk says, “Ner Hashem, nishmas adam.”
The soul of a person is called a ner, a light. Who lit it?
Every light was lit by a Source.
By seeing the lights on Chanukah, we can recognize Who lit these lights, Who the beginning of all this is. We can see the Chanukah lights and see which Master lit it – where the beginning of these lights is.
This represents the power of complete, perfect Emunah – the real light of Chanukah.
When a person walks into a building and he sees light, it usually doesn’t make a difference to him who lit up the building. But Chanukah teaches us that we must see the beginning, the source, of all light – Hashem.
We usually only focus on the purpose of everything, but do we ever think about the source of things? That is the lesson of Chanukah: we can see the beginning of everything.
“I am the First, and I am the Last.” It is not just enough to know that Hashem is the Last and the goal of everything. We have to also be aware that He is the beginning of everything. We must see how He is both the beginning and end of everything.
Chochmah, wisdom, is called ohr\light. The Torah, which is Chochmah, is called Torah Ohr. This is because ohr serves to show us what the beginning of all things are.
This is the special ability of the Jewish people: we can see the beginning of things, not just the goal of whatever everything leads up to. The nations of the world only focus on what something leads up to, but they do not have the power to trace everything back to its beginning.
Take a look at the world today. All of the world is running after more and more new gadgets. They aren’t interested in beginnings of things, only in what they can get out of something.
The Torah, however, is a revelation of the Beginning that it comes from. Although we also must pursue the goal of everything, we also need to search for the Beginning of everything.
Chanukah is not about the “purpose” of things. It is about the Beginning. It shows us that we must search for the Beginning of everything. The Beginning of everything is Hashem, and so are Torah and the Jewish people called raishis, the beginning.
The light of Chanukah thus reveals how the Torah radiates through the light of Chanukah. It reveals “Torah Ohr.”
There is a minhag on Chanukah to eat dairy. We understand why we eat foods with oil in it, because the miracle happened with oil.
But why do we eat dairy on Chanukah?
Before, we quoted the words of Chazal, that smiling at someone is better than giving him a cup of milk. In this we can find the answer to our question. If I smile at someone, I am showing him the white of my teeth - I am radiating a light toward another, I am giving him he’aras panim (a radiant countenance). I am bestowing upon another, with my smile, the Chochmah\wisdom that is found within me – as it is written, “The wisdom of man lights up his face.” With a smiling countenance, I am shining upon another the light of the beginning of all wisdom.
This is why we eat dairy on Chanukah, to allude to how we must radiate our “white” teeth toward others, which Chazal say is even valuable than giving your friend a cup of milk.
On Chanukah, we light the Menorah to radiate that spiritual light outwards toward others – the light of the Beginning.
Thus, Chanukah does not come to show us the “purpose” of these days. It rather comes to show us what the beginning of it is.
What we learn from Chanukah is that we must make sure to always look for the beginning of something. We shouldn’t only pursue our goals that we are heading towards. What we mainly need to do is to reflect about the beginning of everything.
In whatever you do, think about its beginning. The beginning of anything is Hashem.
When you think about this, you will find that you will be much more motivated to get to your goal.
It’s more important to think about the beginning of each thing than to think about the purpose of each thing.
Let’s say a person loves a certain thing. Why does he love it? If he reflects, he can discover that all loves are rooted in the Creator, because love is a power which comes from the Creator.
He is the source of everything.
We must access our power of seeing the “beginning” in everything. This is really the ohr haganuz, the hidden light, that Hashem hid away at the beginning of Creation. We can access the “hidden light” when we think into the beginnings of everything, and we discover that Hashem is the source of absolutely everything. It is a “hidden light” because at first this perspective is hidden from a person – until he finds it.
This power can be revealed on Chanukah. By accessing our power to see the beginning of everything, we can truly come to connect to the Creator - Who is the First, and the Last.