Chanukah Vayeshev

David Ben Gurion once said: “In Israel, if you don’t believe in miracles, you are
not a realist.” Israel is a miracle, the Jewish people are a miracle and this year,
as we come to celebrate Chanukah, the festival of miracles, we are in need of a

When we light the Chanukah candles, we remember the oil that should have
lasted only one day but instead, burned for eight. There is clearly something
magical about the seven extra days, but what was the miracle of the first day?
Why do we celebrate that oil that should have burned for one day, burned for
one day? Not much of a miracle!

But there was a miracle, not the big sea-splitting, bush-burning type, but the
quieter, more powerful kind: the miracle of hope. Despite the fact there was
only oil for one day, they lit the lamp anyway. They did not despair, they did not
give up, they believed that a small ray of light, shining in the darkness, could
illumine more than the space inside the Temple. It was a symbol of their
victory: their belief that there could be a better tomorrow, that they could stand
against injustice, bring the light back into the world.

And every year, when we light our Chanukiah on the first night, we become the
miracle. When we light that candle with faith and hope, we are part of the
miracle that, today, thousands of years after the Maccabees, Jews all around the
world, find a reason to light that first candle. And we join together across
oceans, connect with one another, with our past, our hopes and dreams and
vision of a future with peace, justice and blessings. This year, we need to feel
hope, to join our lights together and cover the earth in a canopy of peace. And if
we do, we can all not only believe in the miracle, we can be it.

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio

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