* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])
1. *“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hanukkah light.”* Sometimes it seems as though the world is ruled by evil, from the Greeks who ruled over the Land of Israel during the first Hanukkah, up until the regimes that rule over Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza in our own time. Hanukkah reminds us that instead of despairing over the darkness, we should kindle our own light. According to Jewish law, we light one candle the first night and one more candle each night after that. We add light to the world, little by little, until a permanent light will finally be victorious over this temporary darkness.
2. *“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.”* The Hasmoneans acted and fought with all their might, but they also prayed for spiritual help, for a miracle, for heaven-sent success. On Simchat Torah we were surprised in the worst possible way. This Hanukkah we pray to be surprised in the best possible way, that all the hostages will safely come back home. May we be blessed with victory, security, unity, healing, consolation, and eradication of evil. This is an especially favorable time of year, as we bask in the light of the menorah, for seeking God’s help, and this year there is more to pray for than ever.
3. *“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this occasion.”* Only on the first night do we add this third blessing to the other two. This year we understand all to well that the words “Who has granted us life” can never be taken for granted. Happy Hanukkah! May we quickly merit to see light triumph over darkness.