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What Makes Chanukah Different?

Trivia question: Other than Rosh Hashana, which holiday is celebrated on exactly the same day in Israel and around the world?

Answer: Chanukah

What an impressive thought! Of all the chagim, Chanukah brings the message of achdus (unity), no matter where we are, no matter what time zone.

Chanukah is a time of renewal, of re-education. The Chashmonaim renewed the service in the Beis Hamikdash, and on the mizbeach (altar) that had become defiled by the Greeks. Similarly, there are those who rise up against us in every generation in an attempt to destroy our spiritual connection to Hashem. In addition, we have embedded within each of us a different enemy, the yetzer hara (evil inclination) which tries to undermine our commitment to a life in the service of Hashem – our personal Beis Hamikdash.

Education implies getting a person of any age used to something new. Because all beginnings are difficult, they require additional energy to scale new heights. For example, when a child begins academy, we drop sweets over his head and tell him that a special angel sent them, a custom based on making the child excited to learn, and on the principle to educate a child according to their ability.

A stronger relationship and extra gifts, says Mishlei, should be added when someone is taking on a greater challenge. I would think, and I hope, that each person can apply this to their own circumstances. I would also hope that it translates into an upgrade for the depth of relationships, conversations, and more privileges, like when a child progresses from elementary to high academy for example. How we interact with them will give them the confidence to make that transition. Learning on a higher level should inspire excitement and anticipation for the teacher and student, as well as for the parent and child.

When the Greeks defiled the Temple there was a need to restore its holiness as well as reinforce the commitment of the Jewish people. How did they do that? With the sheer force of mesiras nefesh, and being prepared to forfeit everything for a renewed service in the Temple with greater vigor than before.

As we celebrate Chanukah each year, it is infused with renewal and advancement, particularly in areas that may have become downgraded due to the enemy – the yetzer hara. This year, it is unnecessary to even start to mention the challenges that have led us to increase our efforts to bring new energy to our Yiddishkeit.

This week is Chanukah. I hope with this new definition of chinuch, we will spend those eight days adding simcha, gratefulness, and energy to all of our Torah learning and mitzvos. Give your family this gift for Chanukah.

Chanukah Sameach to all!

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