When we light the Chanukah candles, we recite a special blessing thanking God for the miracles that happened to our ancestors “ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’zeh–in those days in this time.” Think about that for a moment: is this not a bit redundant or at least a little contradictory?
The Kedushat Levi (Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev) explains that, in reality, there is nothing redundant or contradictory about it at all. He reveals that what happened in those days during Chanukah, is present with us now in this time. All of the spiritual energy and positive forces that our ancestors tapped into when they defeated the Greek army and rededicated the Temple palpably exist in the spiritual makeup of Chanukah every year.
When we were little, many of us grew up learning that the oil in the menorah lasted for eight days and nights, which was far longer than our ancestors ever imagined. This is not simply some cute idea told to children. It is a foundational concept in Torah Judaism that we circle back to every year: no matter how dark times get, no matter how difficult our lives seem, we have a flask of oil buried deep within our souls ready to be rekindled. No external force can take that oil away from us; it is both internal and eternal.
During “this time,” we have a unique opportunity to tap into the power of “those days” by relighting that oil, getting re-energized about life, and finding internal endurance to keep burning brightly in the midst of external struggle. This Chanukah, when we light our menorahs, may we merit to not only have them light up the rooms around us, but also the darkness within.