Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Chanukah - A Spiritual Holiday

by Rabbi Yitzchok Pacht - guest contributor

There have been many times that oppressive nations sought to destroy the Jewish people, and we were miraculously saved from their designs. Upon two of these occasions, the Rabbis saw fit to establish an annual holiday commemorating the miraculous salvation, providing us with an opportunity to remember Hashem's kindness to us, and thank him for saving us. These holidays are Purim and Hannuka.

The Shulchan Aruch, in describing how Hannuka is observed, notes that although it is permissible, and has even become customary, to have a festive meal in honor of Hannuka, this custom is not part of the observance of Hannuka, as originally ordained by the Rabbis. Instead, Hannuka is observed in a more spiritual way, with expressions of thanks and praise of Hashem. This is in contrast to the holiday of Purim, when a meal, and the exchange of gifts of food are intrinsic to the rabbinically instituted observances of the day.

The Levush (quoted by the Mishna Berurah 670:6), explains this incongruity as follows: Purim commemorates the time that Haman, minister to King Achashverosh, enacted a decree calling for the extermination of the entire Jewish people. Had the Jews agreed to renounce their religious practices, and adopt the customs of the nation amongst which they resided, the murderous Haman would not have been satisfied, and would still have called for annihilation of the Jews. Thus, when Hashem miraculously caused Haman's fall from power, and the subsequent salvation of the Jews, it was a salvation of their physical beings; their spiritual existence was never in danger. The most appropriate way to express our thanks to Hashem for saving our physical beings is by demonstrating our freedom to enjoy the physical gifts he has provided us with.

The oppressive acts of Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks, were of a different nature. Had the Jews agreed to abandon their own customs and beliefs, and become integrated into the Greek lifestyle, they would have been left alone. Their oppressors sought only to destroy them spiritually. And so, when Hashem granted Mattisyahu and the Hasmoneans victory over the Syrian-Greeks, he was preserving the spirituality of the Jewish nation. Our appreciation for this gift, the opportunity to serve Hashem and recognize him as our G-d, is best acknowledged through spiritual expressions of Hashem's praise.

All of our holiday-related activities on Hannuka should carry this significance with it. We should take the opportunities we are granted to praise Hashem and re-affirm our committment to Him. Indeed, as we see by Purim, even a meal, a normally mundane activity, can take on a new meaning when done with the proper intentions and thoughts. While our observance on Hannuka is mainly of a spiritual nature, we should let this holiday and all oberservances connected with it, whether physical or spiritual, be a point of inspiration to carry us through until we reach the next holiday which celebrates our physical salvation - Purim.


For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

The Extended Family Called Society
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

The Epitome of G-d's Kindness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Close Only Counts
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

ArtScroll

All Israel!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Happy New Yira
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Putting The "Snap Crackle and Pop" Into One's Marriage Relationship
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

> Different Courts, Different Rules
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Past, Present, and Future
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

There is a Treasure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Repentance and Changing History
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Benefiting from the Benefit of the Doubt
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Recognition of Good
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Mitzvos That Come Our Way
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

The Beautiful Accompaniment
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Battling Our Inner Enemy
- 5773

War and Peace
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information