A Torah Class on Hanukkah

Any of us who have a Rabbi in their life is so lucky. The wise words of their wisdom always impress me.

As I go into my nearly 20 years studying Torah through the Parsha readings dissected by my Rabbi, I learned something new today, and yet again am surprised that there is more to learn from this book.

Reading and studying the Torah weekly with my Rabbi obviously covers a lot of material, much of which becomes repetitive as we read the same book, year after year after year, as is the custom of the Jews.

It’s not that I enjoy repetition, but more that I love my religion. I believe in it as I am a very traditional, but not Orthodox Jew. I want to know the whole story and I need to be able to talk about it. Therefore, even at a mature age, I still need to be taught. After all these years I can recall much of the story, but I have yet to know all of it and even more importantly, I have yet to learn of all the: Rashi interpretations, the Kabbalistic interpretations, Maimonides and the Chofetz Chaim’s interpretations, as well as my Rabbi’s interpretations. One thing I do feel confident in is that they all make so much sense to me and luckily, for me, my Rabbi has a way to interpret it so it fits right into to everyone’s life.

Today we of course focused in on the Chag of Hanukkah – we were reminded of the miracle of the holiday. We were reminded with sufganiyot and latkes on the table. We were taught of the story of Yehudit, a heroine, and how she saved her community in the town of Bethulia. She charmed her way in and fed this cruel person, Holoferness, goat cheese and wine. This was a new story for me, and I found it enjoyable. It reinforced one big point of the holiday, which is the courage of the Jewish People, and this time in particular from one of the many courageous woman like Yehudith, that truly came to the rescue.

BUT most SIGNIFICANT for me was to learn today something else I did not know: that Hanukkah, much like Yom Kippur, gives us all an OPPORTUNITY TO START FRESH. Therefore, as I have been taught by my Rabbi, if you are given a chance to fix something that you have made a mess of, do not lose the chance. Do your best to pick yourself up and own it and make up for it. Start new and do it, do not just talk about it, but rather think it through and put it into action. Otherwise there is only one thing I have to say to you: Live with regret.

Also what is so beautiful about the candles is that they in a sense represent us, as the flame burns, it is representative of our superior being and the soul within each one of us. Therefore this candle with its wick and its flame has a very strong component of our spiritual being and is a way and a real opportunity for us to connect. We must not forget to use the light from the candle AND NOT as a “light” for viewing but rather a light for enlightenment. That is how powerful the candles are.

Women on Friday night as Shabbat begins; when we light the candles, it’s important to put time into focusing on the flame. Ask for miracles and never say never, as I was reminded of that fact of life that I learned a long time ago. You just never know until you will know, so take ‘never’ out of your sentence. Therefore, with the menorah and the candles in our view I hope if nothing else we all find a healing for our souls if they need it and see a light at the end of the tunnel should we need that too. If you don’t need it, I assure you that someone you know does, so what better thing to do on this holiday then to send out your message for someone else in need.