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Tuesday, Kislev 19, 5782 / November 23, 2021


On Chanukah we celebrate two miracles; the miracle of the oil in the Holy Temple and the miracle in which the small army of the Macabees were victorious over the great armies of their Syrian-Greek-Hellenistic enemies.  As we recite in the Al Hanisim prayer, "Strong fell in the hands of the weak; many into the hands of the few."


Q. How does lighting the Menorah celebrate the miracle of winning the war against their mighty enemies? 


A.  The decrees against the Jewish people at the time of Chanukah were of spiritual nature.  Jews were prohibited to study Torah and observe the mitzvot which connect us to G-d.  The war which the Macabees fought against the Hellenists was to protect and save the Jewish soul; i.e. for the observance of Torah and Mitzvot


The soul is compared to a candle, as is written, "The candle of G-d is the soul of man."  Torah and mitzvot are also compared to a candle and light. 


As a result, the sages established to celebrate Chanukah with the lighting of candles.  For it not only celebrates the miracle of the oil in the Beth Hamikdash, it also commemorates the victory of the war which was against the Jewish soul (candle) and the victory of Torah and mitzvot, which are compared to a candle and light.


The Chanukah candles enlighten us to know and believe in the power of miracles.  For miracles do happen all the time, it is only a matter of recognizing them.  Some miracles are obvious, while most are hidden, for they are concealed in what we call "nature." 


A more accurate term for what is commonly known as "nature" would be, constant miracle.  Miracles are usually defined as something which is out of the ordinary, unexpected, cannot be explained and challenges the laws of nature.  Things which happen continuously, and thus, have come to expect them, we call nature.


But in truth nature is the greatest miracle of all.  The very fact that G-d makes these things happen so normally, regularly, and so naturally, is the most wonderful miracle.


"A small amount of light drives away much darkness," say our sages.  The holiday of Chanukah, through the spiritual illumination of the Chanukah candles enlighten us to recognize G-d's miracles that constantly accompany us every minute of every day.


Today is the 19th of Kislev.  It is a very important day in the Chassidic calendar, especially for Chabad-Lubavitch. In the year 1798, Rabbi Schneur Zalmen, founder and first Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, was liberated from prison.  He was imprisoned by the Czarist government for spreading the teachings of the Kaballah and Chassidus.  Rabbi Schneur Zalmen's life was in grave danger.  After 53 days of imprisonment, he was released on the 19th of Kislev. 


Like the Chanukah candles which illuminate the darkness, so too, Rabbi Schneur Zalmen's teachings have illuminated Jewish souls through the darkness of this exile, for over 200 years.