If we look closely at the details of Chanukah – the Menorah, the history, the number of flames – they can reveal the nature of our soul.
As the sun sets and the shadows of night descend, we kindle the Menorah creating light in the darkness. Listen carefully to the flames and they will tell you a story, a story that will empower you to live a more profound meaningful life, enabling you to rise up toward challenge and overcome difficulty. Sit near the flames and study them quietly.
“The flame of God is the soul of a human being,” says the Torah. As flames warm and illuminate their environment, so too you can use your soul to infuse life with warmth and light. Unlike all other physical entities that are drawn earthward, the dancing flames flicker upward defying gravity. Likewise your soul, not satisfied with mere physical comforts, aspires up toward something beyond.
Chanukah is not just about lighting up our own lives. By placing the Menorah in the window of your home or at your doorpost, you allow the light to radiate into the dark street, illuminating your surroundings. Chanukah reminds us of our ability and responsibility to effect the world around us and prompts us to shine light into the lives of others with daily acts of goodness and kindness. Just as a flame lights another without diminishing itself, so too by sharing yourself you become enhanced rather than diminished. Every day we must increase illumination of ourselves and our environment – each day adding another good deed, lighting an additional flame.
Chanukah tells yet a deeper story, a story that penetrates the darker shadows of our lives. The Menorah shines a tunnel back through time to the aftermath of a great victory in which a small band of Jews defeated the might of the Greek Empire. In amongst the debris of the desecrated Temple the Maccabees searched ceaselessly until they found a single sealed cruse of oil that miraculously burnt for eight days. When you are defiled, when your inner Temple has been desecrated and there is no oil to be found, you have the power to reach deeper inside and discover light. The soul always remains intact like a “pilot light.” When you light your Menorah under such difficult circumstances, creating light in the darkest moment, that light can never be extinguished. The light that has dealt with challenge, that has transformed pain into growth, is a light that transcends nature and transforms darkness into light.
This power to transform darkness must come from a place beyond the conventional. We therefore light eight candles, the mystical number of transcendence and infinity, one beyond the number seven that represents the natural cycle. In order to pierce darkness with light, you can’t just rely on the natural, you need to reach a deeper resource which is the eighth dimension.
These elements of Chanukah – the eight flickering flames, the miracle of the oil, the light shining into the dark street – beckon us to connect to the power of our soul. Our soul rises like a flame toward that which transcends itself, not only repelling darkness as is the nature of all light, but transforming the darkness into light.