Joint US-Israel Hanukkah stamp
Joint US-Israel Hanukkah stampUS Postal Service

“I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming”

The eighth night of Hannukah. The family will gather and light the candles together. The room is filled with wonder and joy. There are eight candles sparkling, the light of which brings warmth to the family inside and to the passers-by outside who will see its glow. A reminder of God’s presence. Of His miracles, of His protection and care for His People Israel.

The children will spin the dreidel. They turn it, turn it. To their delight, it spins and sparkles, and a lovely tune is playing alongside its gay spin.

Gold, chocolate-filled coins will be distributed. The children will delightedly open the delicious treat and consume the round chocolate. Round, as the nature of life. As the beginning of a circle will meet the end, and form a figure whose beginning and end are now indiscernible. It just circles, as does life. A cycle of joy and sorrow and joy. Of the sun which rises today and sets tomorrow, only to be followed by another sunrise and another sunset. Circling into eternity.

The children will serenely consume the chocolate coins, having no need for the gold coin as a currency, and knowing that their more mundane needs will be met by benevolence. So it will be for all of Mankind, one day. As it once was in the Garden of Eden.

And now, it is Hannukah. And we are engrossed in gold coins and dreidels, and the wonder of the Menorah.

In the days of the Holy Temple, the High Priest would light the Menorah. A golden Menorah, a seven branched candlelabrum.

According to tradition, the seven branches of the Menorah represent the seven days of Creation. The central light represents the Sabbath.

The Menorah itself is in the shape of a tree, reminiscent of the Tree of Life.

The seven branches of the Menorah allude to the seven emotive attributes of God. By lighting the lamps, these attributes are revealed, enabled to shine in our midst.

It is prohibited to use a seven-lamp Menorah outside of the Temple (Menachot 28b). We therefore light instead an eight-candelabrum menorah.

One day the Messiah will come, the Holy Temple will be rebuilt, and once again the golden seven-candlelabrum Menorah will be lit.

We will return to the days of the Garden of Eden. When man lived in harmony with nature, in tranquility and beauty. Man will now live in harmony also with one another, in a state of unity and peace. The world will be filled with the knowledge of God, overflowing as the rivers run to the sea, radiant as the light of the candles we are now lighting.

In the haftorah of Hanukkah we read the prophecy of the Messianic era.

(Zechariah 2:14)

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for I am coming, and I will dwell in the midst of Thee, saith the LORD….“

(Zechariah 4:6)

“…..Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts”.

One day the world will enter into an age of peace and tolerance, understanding and holiness.

And until then? What is our role, until that day?

There is here a mystery, an elusive glimmer, as the flicker of flame hints at an answer.

Man is a partner to God in Creation. “The Lord God took the Man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it (Bereshit,2:15) We are partners with God in enabling the world to flourish and blossom, so that the light of Heaven will shine through Creation. We are partners with God in enabling the light of goodness and sanctity to chase away the darkness with which we would otherwise be surrounded. To fill the space and the life which we occupy with light and joy. To enhance the beauty and holiness inherent in and around each of us.

Man is a partner to God also in Redemption..

We have a role to play, in prayer.

“…..You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7)

We have a role to play, in making the world a better place. Our actions of prayer, goodness, lovingkindness, unity among mankind, will hasten the coming of the Messiah.

And why eight candles? Eight is the magical number of mystery, in which miracles occur, and the impossible becomes possible. The Menorah, which had only enough light for seven days, miraculously burned for eight days.

On the eighth night of Hanukkah, we are reminded of the miraculous.

And perhaps, we are also partners to God in Miracles.

Each of us, in his own unique way, enhances the Light of Creation.

In a small way, as the small hand of the child spinning the dreidel, as the hand which lights the candles, we each add the strength of our prayers, the commitment of our souls, the tuning of our hearts, our very actions, towards beseeching Heaven.

‘The soul of man is the candle of God’ (Proverbs 20:27)

There are many candles which together form one light, which grows brighter with each candle lit.

May we be worthy of the wonder of Life, the blessings of Creation and the promise of Redemption.

Dr. Devorah Ungar is an American-born scientist and musician.who mved to Israel 30 years ago.