When video recorders first came out, taking one along on vacation almost meant bringing a luggage
carrier just to shlepp the equipment with you. Today, you can fit a camcorder or viewcam in any
decent-sized briefcase or even a purse. Now it's easier than ever to capture for posterity those
memories in progress, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be saved in your mind, your heart and
your audio/video storage cabinet. Months or years later, you can watch the "home videos" and
remember the good times.
Nowadays we have ways to keep memories alive. But can we actually relive an experience?
Haven't we all wished, at one time or another, that we could capture a moment and actually relive it
at a future date?
"These days are remembered and experienced." A basic Jewish teaching is that not only is a holiday
or holy day a commemoration of an event that took place many years ago, but the actual event is
re-experienced yearly on the anniversary of its happening.
The upcoming festival of Chanuka is no exception. The same "spiritual energy" that was present at
that time is in the world once again. This means that we can tap into those forces and make them
"work" for us in our lives today. We can actually relive the miracles and lessons of Chanuka.
What Chanuka energy are we able to remember and experience?
One of the Chanuka miracles was that a small band of Jews who were devoted heart, body and soul
to G-d and to the Torah were able to vanquish the strongest army of the day. On Chanuka we
experience this same devotion and enthusiasm about Jewish life and living. We can devote ourselves
heart, body and soul to a special mitzva we have long wanted to do, and we will successfully
integrate that mitzva into our lives.
The second miracle of Chanuka was when a small amount of oil kept the rededicated Temple
menora lit for a wondrous eight days until more oil could be produced. There was, in fact, other oil
readily available. However, it had been tampered with by the Greeks and though permissible to use,
the Jewish victors would not accept compromises for the rededication of the Temple. They wanted
no traces of corruption or decay.
We relive this Chanuka miracle when we refuse to compromise our Judaism, even under extenuating
circumstances. The Maccabees' resolve to use only pure oil gives us the strength to enhance our
Jewish living by being uncompromising in our performance of mitzvot, whether it's putting a few coins
in a charity box daily, befriending a lonely person, affixing mezuzot to our doorposts, speaking only
kindly of others, or setting aside time for Jewish learning.
As one of the Chanuka blessings states, G-d performed miracles for us "in those days at this time."
On Chanuka we can expect that G-d will perform miracles for us in our days at this time, culminating
in the ultimate miracle-the peace, plentitude, health and Divine wisdom for the entire world that will
be experienced in the Messianic Era.
Looking to the Horizon
There are eight days of Chanukah. In several sources, the number eight is associated with the era of
Mashiach. According to the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystic tradition, there is an obvious connection.
The number seven is associated with the natural order, while the number eight with the transcendent
and the miraculous.
Thus the eight days of Chanukah are associated with miracles.
Similarly, the coming of Mashiach will be characterized by miracles, with the fulfillment of the
prophecy: "As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show [the people] wonders."