Lit all eight candles tonight.Just to stick my foot in the door before the last moments escape, I was listening to a shiur, "Lighting the Fire Within," by Rabbi Naftali Elsaz. He brought out the uniqueness of Chanukah from an interesting angle: Usually, when something pure comes into contact with something impure, the pure becomes tainted and does not elevate the impure. However, the Chanukah miracle is described as "temayim beyad tehorim" -- the pure overcame the impure. He went on to attribute that to the enthusiasm and zeal of the Hasmoneans.
That was quick.
That was quick.
The first thing that came to my mind after hearing this was blogging. I often wonder whether I belong here, whether the benefits outweigh the concerns, whether my pure intentions are enough to stand up to the tum'ah that is the internet. This didn't bring me any closer to a resolution, it was just a point to ponder...
I didn't hear it in the speech (could be I spaced out through that part...) but I think this is a message inherent in the menorah as well. Darkness doesn't kill a flame; rather, a flame dispels the dark. The pure overcomes the impure. Chanukah.
Then I mused it another step: The reason for the above is because darkness in essence is the absence of light. Once the light is kindled, the darkness vanishes -- it was nothing all along. I don't remember the specifics, but I vaguely recall learning something in the past about tum'ah being the removal of purity... that fits.
Finally, one last link to take us back to Chanukah: The above all fits because Yavan (ancient Greece) was hevel, nothing. Nothing is the absence of substance. Whereas previous oppressors fought for a different holiness, pushing their gods on us, the Greeks were godless. Beauty for its own sake, the world is perfect and they seek nothing higher. So instead of having to fight to destroy something, all that's needed is to bring back substance to end the vacuum. Light the menorah and fill the dark void.
Here's something real that we can take with us into life after Chanukah. It's time to put away the silver menorah and become a human menorah. By simply doing the right things, the Torah things, you are actively purifying the world. And you don't necessarily need to debate with a missionary to do it.
"Me-at min ha-or doche harbay min hachoshech" or something like that.
The highlight of my Chanukah, though, was getting to meet some people in real life. I felt bad for those who couldn't make it, so I took a picture to share some of the fun with you. Take a look to see who turned up!