Towards greater appreciation

Hanukkah's legacy is just what happened over 2,000 years ago, but every page of Torah we learn and every mitzva we do - today.

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Hanukkah candles
Hanukkah candles
Michelle Baruch

At the end of his Hilchot T'shuva (10:6), Rambam writes that Ahavat HaShem, Love of G-d, is proportional to one's Knowledge of G-d.

According to the knowledge will be the Love - if little, little and if a lot, a lot. Let's say, that the potential level of one's love G-d is commensurate with the level of one's knowledge of Him, His creation, His world - and let's include, His actions.

One more tweak: Love of G-d includes one's appreciation of G-d. People who see stars at night and think of them as tiny lights hung in the black velvet of night can appreciate G-d's Creation, but he who knows some of the astronomy involved can obtain a higher level of appreciation for G-d's world.

Someone with a minimal and primative understanding of who babies are conceived and born can certainly appreciate G-d - but not as much as someone who is very knowledgeable about the intricacies of the biology and physiology involved. And so on and so forth.

And so too with Chanuka. The Greeks oppressed the Jews. The Chashmona'im fought against the Greeks and won. They then wanted to clean up and purify the Beit HaMikdash and get it into operation again, after years of dormancy. They wanted to light the Menora but found only a one-day supply which miraculously lasted for eight days.

Our Sages decreed an 8 day holiday called Chanuka. Sort of like a kindergarten level of what happened. And certainly there is appreciation of G-d for the miracles of the victory and the oil. But we need to know more. To realize more. So that our appreciation (and love) of G-d can grow and grow.

Ponder if and how you would observe Shabbat if doing so put your life at risk. Ponder what it is like that a girl cannot marry without first being used by the Greek governor or general for his pleasure. Ponder the decision one must make to have a Brit for his son at great risk to one's life, rather than facing the difficult choice of Holy Bagel or Waffle Bar. Ponder the sad fact that we were not just fighting the Greeks and their culture, but were plagued by a great split within our own people. Ponder that it wasn't just the Beit HaMikdash that was rededicated and the Avoda that was resumed - it was Torah learning, the practice of mitzvot, in public and without fear that was restored.

Chanuka's legacy was not only what happened over 2000 years ago, but every page of Torah we learn and every mitzva we do - today.


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