A new Torah study group recently formed with Sinai Temple dads. Each month, we explore a traditional Jewish text based on well known rituals, and we discuss the meaning that these traditions have within our own families.
This week, the topic was mai chanuka? What is Chanukah? We investigated the deeper meanings of pirsumei nisa, the mitzvah of publicizing the miracle. All of the dads shared where their families place the chanukiah.
While Shabbat candles are traditionally placed on the table in order to benefit from the light, permitting us to engage in oneg shabbat, the joy of the Sabbath, the Chanukah candles belong in the window, demonstrating to the world the miracle of light in the darkest time of the year.
Our host ran out of the room and returned with a Chanukiah his family created during the pandemic. Homemade, from scratch, a life size chanukiah. He explained how each of his children participate not only in lighting the candles, but in creating the chanukiah that holds the candles. On the base of the candelabra, each family member signed their name.
For the rest of the class, this Chanukiah graced our presence, and was a constant reminder of the true meaning of Chanukah. The Maccabees, our Chanukah heroes, not only defeated the Greeks, but took the time to rededicate the Temple. In essence, the Maccabee message is not what we should get for Chanukah, but what we should give: give of our time, give of our resources, give of our heart, to rededicate ourselves to the true meaning of community.
The Talmud teaches us eesh u’veito, each member of the household should light the Chanukiah. Yes, the mitzvah, the commandment is to light the Chanukiah, but this year, let us focus on building the Chanukiah, taking the ingredients of our society that we have surrounding us, putting those pieces together, to erect a structure in which light can shine.