December 25th, 2022 — Hanukkah Kavanot 2022/5783
Happy Hanukkah, everyone. My name is Rabbi Morris Panitz and I want to share something about Hanukkah that’s going to throw a little curveball in how you understand this holiday.
The miracle of Hanukkah is that there was just enough oil for one night, but instead it burned and it lasted for eight nights. So if our lighting of the hanukkiah is meant to reenact this miracle.
The question I have is, why don’t we just light one candle that burns for eight nights or add enough oil so that our hanukkiah is aglow for all eight nights of Hanukkah?
That’s not what we do.
Instead, each night we reapproach the table and light the hanukkiah. One more candle for each night. So why did the Sages of our tradition ask us to light the hanukkiah this way instead of one continuous burn?
I think there’s great honesty and wisdom in this approach. There’s a recognition that we don’t live in a world of continuous light.
Instead, each night, each day of our lives, we have to make the conscious decision when it’s dark around us, when we’ve been knocked down, when the world looks bleak, to instead come to the table and add a little bit more light.
And it’s gradual. We don’t start with eight candles. We start with one light each night, adding a little bit more.
So this Hanukkah, I bless us with the courage to know that each night all we have to do is add a little bit more light. And that’s what displaces the darkness.