This is my fourth article, I have been in Israel for 92 days and now I am going to celebrate the feast of Hanukkah. Jews celebrate the victory of light over darkness, honesty over dishonesty and a deeper spirituality over materialism. This commemoration marks the struggle of the Jews against their oppressors for the right to practice their religion freely.
Sr. Anne Catherine spoke to us about this celebration and its importance for Judaism. It was after this class that I was thinking about the meaning of the candles and the message that each one arouses in us. For myself, each flame has a message for the Jews and for the world.
The second candle may be the DEDICATIO. The Maccabees, fought for their religious freedom, reaping an impressive victory against the powerful army in the ancient world. After three years, they reconquered Jerusalem, rededicated the Temple and lit the candlestick with the only pot of oil they found among the wreckage. The one pot of oil lasted eight days. This was the miracle of Hanukkah!
The third candle can be a celebration of the LIGHT, the light that illuminated the eight days and is still lit today. The light destroys the darkness and wins! Since the days of Moses and the burning bush that wasn’t consumed, until the days of the Maccabees and the single pot of oil, Judaism has carried a wealth of knowledge for humanity. It is an eternal light that no power on earth can extinguish.
The fourth candle can represent EDUCATION. For several generations this history is passed on, so that every Jew know the teachings are to sustain them and to remind them of God’s faithfulness to his people.
The fifth candle can represent IDENTITY. During this period, the ritual of lighting candles (one for each day) is common. The feast of Hanukkah has a purpose for Jews to preserve their identity in the midst of a secular society, and not be exactly the feast of the Jews! This message of peace and union at this time of year is universal and present in all religions and peoples.
The sixth candle reminds me of FREEDOM. The story of Hanukkah lives, and still inspires, speaking not only to the Jews, but to the whole world, that although there is tyranny, freedom, with the help of God, will always win the final battle.
The seventh candle I call HOPE. Judaism and its culture of hope have survived, and the Hanukkah lights are the symbol of this survival, of Judaism’s refusal to abandon its values for the glamor and prestige of a secular culture, past or present.
Hope may seem a small thing, but the survival of a civilization may depend on it.
The eighth candle I think of PEACE, the meaning of this moment is to illuminate interior peace and spread this clarity in the world taking values of peace, friendship and holiness. It is part of the tradition to place the Hanukkiah next to a window to spread the miracle so that everyone can see.
But it can also be a way of saying I gave you my peace.
This was my meditation on the Hanukkiah and the Jewish feast.
Erika Regina, Novice NDS