Why is it that I can eat matza, but nobody comes running after me hungry to eat matza too, but when I place my menora by my window, and kindle all the heavenly lights, all the Yidden that pass by my window feel the deepest hunger inside their hearts? It is because, as Rebbe Nachman teaches, Hanukah is a light that burns from the inside out, not from the outside in.
I once met this homeopathic doctor, and he told me the difference between a medical doctor and a homeopathic doctor. A regular doctor works from the outside to the inside, but the homeopathic doctor begins with the inside and then goes out.
This, my beautiful friends, is how the Bal Shem Tov wanted to heal the world. He said that it’s no longer enough to begin studying Torah from the outside in, when Yidden are becoming sick all over the place. Now the world needs to begin studying the Torah from the inside out.
Do you realize that it’s possible for people who are ‘officially religious’ to keep the entire Torah, and still not have the faintest idea of what Yiddishkeit is all about? These are the people who keep Shabbos, and yet have still never even tasted what it’s all about.
On Hanukah, we must begin to see the outside world, and to see our holy Torah, through that inside light that is burning inside all of us.
Why is it that one person can feel the light of Hanukah, but another person, is sill feeling so cold? Nebech, gevalt, right?
I was once at the home of a certain so called ‘great’ Rabbi. He had a phone in his hand. And so, while he was talking to somebody, his wife brought in the menorah, and, while putting the person on hold, he made the bracha. As soon as everybody answered “amen,” he got back on the phone and ignored the light and ignored his family. So maybe this Rabbi will go to paradise one day because he did all the mitzvas. But, gevalt, it’s the paradise down here that he’s missing.
I want you to listen to this, it’s so beautiful. My brother Michael and I are best friends. Imagine that we have a very big fight. So I go to him and ask, “Can you please forgive me?” and he says, “Yeah, I forgive you.” But you know, it’s no longer the same between us anymore. There is something still missing. You know what’s missing? The light between us is missing. There is forgiveness, but there is no more light left between us.
Rebbe Nachman teaches that on Yom Kippur G-d forgives us, but it’s not until Hanukah that G-d gives us back the light. So on Hanukah, the light is back between us – and the light is so deep, so intimate.
Hanukah is the holiday of Aaron HaCohen, the High Priest. On Yom Kippur, the High Priest would walk into the Holy of Holies to ask for G-d’s forgiveness. But why do we need a High Priest in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, if Moshe Rabbenu already came back from Heaven bringing us the Two Tablets as a sign of G-d’s forgiveness? Do I need more than forgiveness?
Ah, gevalt: we need so much more than forgiveness. We need intimacy. We need to be so much closer to G-d than forgiveness can bring us.
So Aaron HaCohen didn’t go into the Holy of Holies to ask for our forgiveness. He went in after we were already forgiven. Instead, he went into the Holy of Holies to bring down the light of intimacy for his people.
The difference between holy things and ordinary things is very simple. You do not long for ordinary things once you have them. You have them, and the longing is fulfilled. But when it comes to holy things, even if you have them, you still long for them very much. I have Shabbos every week, but how much of it do I really have? How do I know if I truly have the holy Shabbos? You only have the holy Shabbos if you are longing for it all of the time.
On Hanukah it is fire rather than water that we celebrate. Because, like fire, we are mamash longing for something so holy and exalted.