Mendy Kaminker

How religious are you?

How religious are you?

Oops. Forgive me for that. I know it’s a personal matter. So, no need to respond to this question.

But let me guess: you are ultra-religious!

I can prove it to you.

When you light the Menorah, you light one candle on the first night. Correct? And then, two candles on the second. And three on the third night. Am I correct again?

I imagine that, at this point, you are quite puzzled. What does lighting the Menorah every night has to do with it? Everyone is doing it the exact way!

And you are correct.

Now, let’s look at the laws of Chanukah.

Every Mitzvah has different levels. You can fulfill it at the very basic level, or you can go above and beyond; to observe the Mitzvah in the most elaborated way.

When it comes to Chanukah, the basic level of the Mitzvah is to light just one candle every night. Yes, just one candle.

The law has a unique title for those who add a candle every night. They are called “mehadrin min hamehadrin”, which means “people who are extremely careful in performing mitzvot.”

So here you go: this is what the book of Jewish law calls you!

Of course, you should take this as a compliment.

At least for the Mitzvah of Chanukah, you are doing it to the nth degree. You are not stopping at the basic level but fulfilling the Mitzvah in the best way possible.

And together with you, every Jew who lights the Menorah does the same.

If you will, Chanukah is the holiday that celebrates our ultra-committed relationship with G-d.

Being in an ultra-committed relationship means going much farther than a typical relationship. A committed relationship is about being there for each other; an extra-committed relationship is about caring profoundly and stopping at nothing to make the other person happy.

On Chanukah, both the Jewish people and G-d demonstrated their ultra-committed relationship.

The Jews were willing to take an almost-sure-to-fail bet against the ruling empire. Despite being few in size, they risked their lives because they cared so deeply about observing G-d’s Mitzvot.

G-d mirrored their commitment. Not only did He save their lives and sent them victorious, but He also performed the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days.

Lighting the Menorah was not crucial for their survival. They could have waited eight more days until new oil would arrive. Yet G-d chose to break all laws of nature to enable them to fulfill the Mitzvah.

And until today, every Jewish person who lights the Menorah, is being ultra-committed by doing it in the best way possible.

With just a few days left of this beautiful holiday, now is a perfect time to reflect on the deeper meaning of Chanukah.

Chanukah is the holiday that allows us to bring our relationship with G-d to new depths. May we all enjoy a deep and profound relationship with G-d for many years to come!

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of
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