Guest column: Lifting us to a place of miracles, brightness and hope – Victoria Advocate

Posted By on December 5, 2021

Tonight, we will light the sixth candle of the Hannukah Menorah. Its a season of joy, illumination, resolve and family celebrations. Its the time of year that takes me down memory lane to my childhood, when my siblings and I were immersed for eight straight days in the Hannukah spirit with a passion that still warms my heart today. We attended the Menorah lighting on 5th Avenue, near Central Park, in New York City as Mayor Ed Koch shared words of encouragement, we prayed with traditional melodies at the Brooklyn Synagogue of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of blessed memory, and my mom took us to FAO Schwarz to purchase toys with our Chanukah Gelt; it was marvelous.

Its eight days that uplift us out of the normal chaos and grime of day-to-day life and takes us to a place of miracles, brightness, hope and holiness. Its a time that etches in our mind that fighting for a better tomorrow is always worthwhile.

Chanukahs commemoration is twofold. It celebrates the victory of Judah the Maccabee over the Syrian Greek army who sought to force Jewry to assimilate to Greek culture. It also commemorates the procurement of one small jug of untainted oil needed for the Holy Temple candelabra. They only had enough oil for one night and it lasted, miraculously, for eight. One can ask: why do the ancient sages of the Talmud make such a big deal about finding pure oil, isnt it possible, even probable, that despite their greatest efforts to defile all the oil the Greeks missed one jug?

The Hassidic Masters teach that the miracle of Hannukah wasnt just finding the pure oil, but the fact that the Jews searched for it. After a grueling three years of urban warfare, a Temple in ruins, mourning the loss of so many Jewish brothers and sisters, Judah and the surviving warriors couldve chosen to relax a bit and acquire fresh pressed olive oil in a few days, or even a few weeks, and rededicate the Temple then. They didnt. They understood then and it still rings true today that the survival of good people is dependent on their belief in, and unwavering commitment to, making the world a better place now. The forces of darkness do not take breaks, they arent chilled; they are on fire, working tirelessly, day and night, to pervert society and to divide humanity. Darkness is the absence of light, so the only way to eliminate darkness is to be a beacon of light, to outshine the forces of evil and, like Judah the Maccabee, to value the urgency and step up today to ensure the brightness of tomorrow. Its easy to surrender to a dark reality, this is how it is; we need to live with it, but its rewarding to the soul to be the antidote to this ailment and be the miracle, be the light, be the societal change of goodness.

In the words of Nelson Mandela A bright future beckons. The onus is on us, through hard work, honesty, and integrity, to reach for the stars.

Happy Hannukah!

Rabbi Chaim Bruk is co-CEO and spiritual leader of Chabad Lubavitch of Montana. He can be reached at


Guest column: Lifting us to a place of miracles, brightness and hope - Victoria Advocate

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