Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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Good-bye Chanukah – It’s Been Miraculous
In my pre-Chanukah post, I discussed (or rambled on about) how Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, but also the time when Jews all over the world celebrate, and meditate upon, miracles. But what kind of miracles exactly? Well, we have the basic Chanukah story where the Hashmonaim found a small amount of oil that lasted eight days and nights to burn the menorah. Now let’s go even further than that.
I recently heard a beautiful thought on Chanukah miracles. The miracle wasn’t so much that the Hashmonaim found a small bit of oil that lasted 8 days, but that they believed in themselves enough to search! The Jews – the Hashmonaim – could have just given up on themselves, but instead they believed in themselves and in their search – not just for any kind of oil, but for pure oil so that the menorah should be lit. And that is the miracle of Chanukah – to believe in our true potential and to believe in ourselves. We put so many physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual limitations on ourselves that it’s so easy to actually believe that we are incapable of doing all of the wonderful and unique work we are destined to do in this world! And instead, we allow for doubt and darkness to slip into our lives. Yet when we light the menorah during Chanukah, we are reminded of what miracles can happen when we believe in ourselves and all of the potential we can actualize.
So needless to say, I’m quite sad that tonight was the last night my roommates (Annie too!) and I said the blessings, lit the menorah, and contemplated all of the miracles we would like to see for ourselves. In all my life I have never felt such an attachment to this holiday. But this year it feels like a mini Rosh Hashanah – a time filled with promise in starting over, and the opportunity to ask G-d for all the blessings we would like to receive.
According to Jewish law, the Chanukah candles are supposed to burn for at least 30 minutes, and it is preferable to gaze at them and meditate upon them. As this is the last night of Chanukah, I wanted to make a point to look at them for as long as possible. The candles were burning down to the bottom of the wick, some completely burned out with only three left. In the blink of an eye all three had suddenly burned out as well. But “miraculously” one wick managed to actually stay lit and the flame reappeared, bigger than before. It was a nice reminder that even though I won’t be lighting the candles until next winter, G-d is always there even when we think He’s not, and that miracles surround us no matter what holiday and what season.