Cleaning My Hanukkiah

Every year, I am tasked with the cleaning and polishing of my family’s menorah. For approximately 30 minutes, it’s my responsibility. But I don’t mind. For I am blessed with the time to reflect on the past eight nights.

As I scrape:

I picture my joy in watching my three-and-a-half-year-old grandson, Carson, repeating the words, “Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam,” as he stares into the candle’s flames;

I am blessed.

I recall asking two questions on the eighth night:

“Why are the flames the those two yellow candles almost 3″ in height?”

“Should I have not heeded the warning on the wooden candle box?

“Candle wicks should be trimmed to 1/4 inch before burning;”

I am inquisitive.

I ask, “Is this a good sign or an omen?” Not knowing the symbolic meaning of large flames coming off of Chinese beeswax candles;

I am puzzled.

I remember my son, Jason, chastising me, “Dad, you’ve got to alternate the colors of the candles, red, blue, yellow — red, blue, yellow!” He’s so adamant as if he is quoting biblical laws and holding multicolored vials of pure olive oil;

I am blessed.

Before I scrub, I study the melted wax formations found on the base of my Hanukkiah. My eyes see a calm sea, as blue as Lake Kinneret touching green pastures;

I am imaginative.

Every night for approximately 30 minutes, I watch the candles melt away, betting on which one will burn out first. It is not as exciting as spinning a dreidel but trust me it is fun;

I am creative.

Why do I watch the candles from when they are lit till G-d’s hand snuffs out their flame? Because on the candle box it admonishes the user: WARNING — Never leave burning candles unattended;

I am compliant.

As I polish my family’s menorah:

I remember lighting it with my long-gone parents. Theirs flames snuffed out but my loving memories burning as bright as ever;

I am love.

My Hanukkiah consists of two standing, roaring, silver lions holding a reflective arrowhead-shaped shield and topped off by a Star of David;

I am proud.

I observe that the arrowhead-shaped shield reflects the beautiful flame of one of the lit candles;

I am observant.

I see that attached to one of the lion’s tails is the cup that holds the shamash. The “servant” candle that lights all the other candles;

I am servile to this “Festival of Lights.”

To this miracle of eight nights.

To this Maccabean fight for rights.

For I am a dedicated, blessed, proud, observant and loving Jew.

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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