One for each night
They shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago…
As the candlelight of the menorah flickers and dances, as the light floods the darkest days of the year, our joy and celebration is touched with a melancholy spanning generations.
Chanukah, which comes from the Hebrew root word chanach, dedication, is a commemoration of the rededication of the Temple. After the Greeks desecrated Jerusalem, ransacked the Temple, and ostensibly contaminated everything within, the Jewish people reclaimed it and recovered one precious, untouched jar of olive oil that would miraculously last for eight days instead of one.
The story has been recounted for centuries and yet never loses its perfection. As we watch the candles burn low each night, we are reminded of the joy of our victories.
But we are also reminded of the enemies who lie in wait. We are reminded of the lies which permeate the fabric of mainstream society. The lies that say that Jerusalem is not our capital. The lies which have somehow gained hold, despite historical fact.
In the land of Israel we may contend with the evil of terrorism, but in the Holy Land and throughout the world we face a sinister evil, one that has worked its way into the conscience of mankind. This poisonous belief, which claims only to despise the government of Israel, is quick to spit on any Jewish person in sight. When anti-Zionism is uncovered in all its heinous glory, there grins beneath it our ancient foe.
And though those who spurn the Jewish people may reign victorious in the minds of man at present, we who were chosen by God to be the light unto the nations know the ultimate end.
For we know God will have “indignation against all the nations and wrath against all their host,” (Isaiah 34:2), and His “[sword] shall descend upon Edom” (34:5).
But we who hope in God will be sated, and we who pray in His name will be redeemed. And the “redeemed of Zion shall return, and they shall come to Zion with song, with joy of days of yore shall be upon their heads; they shall achieve gladness and joy, and sadness and sighing shall flee” (35:10).
Our joy, the joy we feel as we light the Chanukah candles, as we dance and laugh and sing for God, as we dress up and drink wine, as we recline like kings and crown the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov as our eternal king, will be made complete in those days.
Until then, we are all asleep. We wait for dawn when we can rise at last. The faintest strokes of light inch across the horizon.
We may rest in darkness now, but soon those hints of light will intensify. The sun will rise, and us with it, and the sky will be filled with a brilliance our eyes have never before beheld.
And on that day, He will wipe away every tear, heal every wound, and in Him we shall be made complete.
He has concealed death forever, and the Lord God shall wipe the tears off every face, and the shame of His people He shall remove from upon the entire earth, for the Lord has spoken.
And they shall say on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God: we hoped for Him that He would save us; this is the Lord for Whom we hoped; let us rejoice and be happy with His salvation.’