Reb Shlomo on the Light of Hannukah... "Everybody knows that Hanukkah is really the end of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Simchas Torah. That means that the High Holidays are all beautiful, but the highest point of them all is on Hanukkah. On Rosh Hashanah, I am in awe before the King of kings. On Yom Kippur, I stand before G-d again and measure myself. Inside I am saying to myself, 'I did such and such good deeds and such and such not so good deeds.'
But on Hanukkah I stop thinking this way altogether because the deepest question is not how many evil deeds and how many good deeds I have done. The deepest question is "What do I have inside of me?" When the whole story is over, what remains inside of me? How do I feel? Am I closer than I ever was with G-d? Am I in touch with the inside of my soul? Is there any light left in my heart? Where am I? If after all these questions, I discover that there is still light left inside of me, then I owe it to the world. I must be the one to help bring the Mashiach. I must be the one to open the doors for G-d's Light to shine into the world.
However, if after all these questions, I am still left in the dark; If after all these holidays, the world around me is still in the dark, then I must ask myself, 'What good was it all?' On Yom Kippur, G-d forgives us for our mistakes. On Simchas Torah we dance them all off. But that still does not answer the question, 'When does G-d fix our hearts? When does G-d take all the hatred and pain from our hearts? When are we healed? When does G-d give us back the holiness of once again being able to see that Light in others and being able to bless them in our own hearts? When do we recognize the Light in ourselves and in all of those beautiful people around us?' The answer my beautiful friends, is on Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is the time of the Macabees, descendents of Aaron the High Priest. Aaron's specialty was making peace between people. How can someone make peace between people? Aaron HaCohen had the level of holiness of actually being able to cleanse a person's heart of all hatred and pain. It was only after that cleansing that they could see the light in others and make peace with the entire world around them. This is a very special blessing he gave to us. Face it. If each time I make a mistake, I feel more bitterness towards others, its only because I feel bitterness towards myself. And with every bit of this bitterness, I become further and further away from my Neshama, and from my own heart.
On Yom Kippur, it may be that G-d fixes my soul. But its on Hanukkah that the Great Light shines into my heart. And so when I stand before a mirror, I see a beautiful person instead of a Shmendrik. So on Hanukkah, my beautiful friends, the lights are burning, even into the darkest hours of the night. And while that light flickers, we are praying, "Master of the World, if it is my mistakes that have kept me in darkness, let this Hanukkah Light shine into all areas of my darkness. Let this Hanukkah Light keep me from ever hating people. Let this Hanukkah Light give me so much holiness that all the darkness of the world can not take away my love for myself and all the beautiful people."
And so I want to bless you and bless myself that this Hanukkah should fix us and its Light should reach the darkest corners of our hearts. And we should all be blessed to realize that when we do kindle a candle, it is G-d's Light we have brought into the world".
Winter calls us to the depths of ourselves.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, May his memory be for Blessing, 'The Light of Hanukah'. (This Torah was spread on Chanukah 1999).
Hanukah lamp, Bohemia, 19th century from "The Precious Legacy" edited by David Altshuler