Everyone loves Chanuka. No question. The menora, the doughnuts, the latkes....it's a lot of fun. But what's the meaning behind it? What are we celebrating here? Why are we risking our arteries and making Jenny Craig rich? What's it all about?

To know what Chanuka is about, we have to know what the Greeks were trying to do to us. Who were the Greeks? Why were we at war with them? Interestingly, the Greeks didn't say that we couldn't learn Torah. They didn't try to kill us, and they were not trying to wipe out Judaism. What they were trying to do was more subtle than that... As you know, at Mount Sinai we were given two

things by Hashem: The Written Torah, which is the Chumash that we have today and read in shule every week, and the Oral Torah, which has today been written down and is known as the Talmud, or Gemara. The Greeks only said that you can't learn the Oral Torah.

The Written Torah, no problem, go ahead. But not the Oral Torah. Why not? Because the Oral Torah is the explanation of the Written Torah. It is the depth of the Written Torah. If you just read the verses of the Chumash, without the deeper insights and explanations of the Oral Torah that accompanies it, it is just stories. Stories that seem sometimes great, sometimes strange, but that's it, just stories. That's what the Greeks wanted. "Every nation has it's god, it's history, it's story, and that's fine with us", said the Greeks. But they didn't want the Jewish People to have a special story.

They wouldn't accept that the Torah is a divine gift with infinite depth, a gateway to understanding an Infinite God, and that the Jewish People have a unique mission: To show the world that it is possible to have a connection with Hashem! To reveal that the reality of the world is not just what it seems on the surface.....it is deeper. Just as the water of the earth usually runs just below the surface and can only be accessed by a well that brings it up into clear view, so too Hashem runs the world, just below the surface, and our job is to make that clear. This is what the Greeks wanted to do to us. To remove the neshama from Judaism. To empty it out of it's inner meaning and leave it as just an external shell.

To make it into just another 'story'. This is also why the Greeks translated the Torah into seventy languages. They made it accessible to everyone, but not with it's depth. It became superficial. Without the depth that was communicated to us by Hashem in the nuances of the Hebrew words and sentences. The Greeks wanted to say there is no power beyond this world: what you see is what you get. We say no - what you see is just the surface, but there is a deeper reality waiting to be revealed for those who look. The gemara says that when we light the Chanuka candles, we are not allowed to use the light of the Chanuka candles for our own personal pleasures. You can't light the menorah and then get some marshmellows, sit around, and tell camp stories. And if the power in your house dies, don't take your book by the lovely romantic light of the menorah and nestle down for the night! Why? Because those candles are not just 'chanuka candles'.

We are relighting those lights of the Temple that the Maccabees lit when they defeated the Greeks! The chanuka candles that each of us light are the very same lights of the Menorah that stood in the Temple 2000 years ago, and no less!! Those lights couldn't be used for anything that was not holy, for they were holy lights, and so are ours on Chanuka. What was so amazing about the lights of the Menorah in the Temple? Why were they so holy? It was because they were miraculous. They stayed alight for 24 hours until they were re-lit every day at evening time, but they didn't contain enough oil to burn for 24 hours! It was a constant miracle. The menorah of the Maccabees, as we know, burned miraculously for 8 days until we could produce more oil. These miracles are not possible unless there is a deeper Source to reality. In the purely physical world of the Greeks, there are no miracles. Those lights told the world our message: Look! There is more to this world than meets the eye! Hashem created it, and He is running it too, you just have to look below the surface for a second to see it. Our Chanuka candles are those candles and nothing less. They are as holy as the candles of the Temple. On Chanuka the Beit Hamikdash (Temple), the santuary where that deeper reality was so clear, is transported to your front door, or your window sill, or your table - wherever you light your chanukiah - wherever you are. Chanuka is fun. And the truth is, that fun is not just the fun of eating donuts and latkes.

It's the thrill of realising the deeper reality of the world, and helping that reality to become a little bit less deep, and a little bit more reality.

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