2020 has been a year filled with unique challenges. It has certainly been a time filled with darkness with glimmers of light. As we approach Chanukah, there is one thing that remains with us from that period of our history; the lighting of the menorah. That moment in history where the Jews lit the menorah and God looked down and winked at us and said I see you.
In the midst of darkness in the winter months when the nights are very long, in the midst of this darkness during the second temple, in the midst when the Greek empire was spiritually devastating the Jewish people, the Jewish people rose up for a brief moment and lit the menorah.
The military success was not that important to our sages. It was a brief moment. The sages say keep an eye on that menorah. That will be permanent. In the darkness, we light the light for God and God will wink back at us.
Sometimes we wonder where God is. And this is God’s way of saying in the midst of a dark moment I see you. Sometimes we ask God, “do you see me? I cry out to you but do you hear me?” And this is Hashem saying in the midst of a dark time, I see you. He flashes a light at us. We light 1 and he keeps it lit for another 7 days. And 7 is completion.
This is like a husband and wife. A husband is tall and the wife is usually shorter. And she wants to kiss her husband. She gets up on her toes as high as she can. And then her husband comes down and gives her a kiss. And that’s what happened. For a brief moment in history in the darkest moment, the children of Israel got on their toes to give God a kiss. We lit the menorah. And as is alluded to in Leviticus 24, God gave us a kiss back and lit the menorah for seven days.
And that’s why the 8 days here is a completion. It’s the coming together of heaven and earth.
We may think does God really care about me? Who am I? This is telling us that God does care. He extends the light to show us that I’m sending the love right back. I’m winking back I’m sending the light back.
Rabbi Bryan Borenstein is Hillel 818's OU-JLIC Rabbi