Mystical power to the lights of the Chanukah
Chazal tell us that there is a mystical power to the lights of the Chanukah. The source of this is that when Hashem created the world, on the first day of creation, he created a brilliant light. This light, the Ohr Haganuz, was so magnificent and brilliant that Hashem decided to keep this light hidden until the Final Redemption, to be enjoyed by the Tzadikim, the pious ones. Chazal further tell us that this light was hidden in three places.
The first place in the Torah itself, enabling Talmidei Chachamim delving into Torah, to benefit from this candescent light, and this would help them in their understanding of Torah.
The second place- in the Chanukah lights, where there is an element of this hidden light.
The third place in the soul of every Jew throughout the generations. This is the spark of holiness which permeates the Neshama, the soul, whereby the entire being is energized by this Divine Light.
Our challenge is to be able to connect with this light, which will significantly enrichen us spiritually. The first way-those who study Torah, are always able to avail themselves of this light. The second way the eight days of Chanukah give us every year an opportunity to connect with this light. Hence the practice after the lighting of the candles to sit by these candles and look at them allowing their essence of the candles to penetrate our very souls giving us a spiritual fortitude.
The Third Way is by delving into our very essential souls, searching for the light which is an integral part of every Jew. However, in order for this to happen we need to be totally conducting ourselves as Jews.
The famous Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponevez Yeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Kahanaman zt"l asks a very probing question. There is a verse in Tehillim Perek 144 which likens the non-Jews to water, as the verse says;" Save me from the waters which threaten me." The prophet Ovadiah on the other hand, says that the Jewish people are likened to fire. (Ovadiah chapter 1) . Asks the Rabbi ; this therefore implies that the Jews are most vulnerable, because it is known that water extinguishes fire. So if the non Jews, likened to water come in contact with Jews who are fire their fire can be, God forbid extinguished or certainly diminished. The Rabbi answers that this is not a problem as long as there is a barrier between the water and the fire. For example, if there is water in a pot which is cooking on the Fire, this barrier protects the water from direct contact with the fire. But even more so once the fire is heating the pot in fact the fire is in control of the water. The moral is, says the Rabbi, that we need to keep ourselves separate from non-jewish culture and maintain exclusively our interaction only with thoroughly Jewish culture. Any interaction with non-Jewish culture can diminish the essence of the Jew.
This was in fact the challenge that the Jews faced at the time of Chanukah. The Hellenistic culture was so powerful that it penetrated into the very core of the Jewish nation to the point that the vast majority of Jews had opted out of traditional Jewish life, and we're remodeling their lives as Hellenistic Greeks. This all came about as a result of over interaction with foreign culture. Our challenge today is to make sure that our families and lives are permeated totally with Jewish culture keeping non-Jewish culture out of our lives completely. In this way we can please G-D maintain our unique Jewish spark. This is one of the messages of Chanukah.