“Ohr Haganuz,” the Hidden Light of Hanukah - Jewish Outlook

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“Ohr Haganuz,” the Hidden Light of Hanukah


Every person has two functions. One function is of ‘me and the world,’ and the other is ‘me and me’ and ‘me and G-d.’

There are two kinds of relationships between people. There is you and me in the world, and then there is just you and me without the world. This is beyond the world, deeper than the world.

How do you know how much you love a person? Are you aware of the world when you are talking to them? If there is still a world, sure you are close, but real true closeness is when suddenly the world stops.

Rebbe Nachman says that, when I daven [pray], there is me and the world and G-d. But then, slowly, as I continue to daven even more, there is just me and G-d. Then I go higher and higher; I stop to exist. There is only G-d. The deepest secret is, how do I keep it all together.

You know what happens when people go to shul [synagogue] on Yom Kippur? Why doesn’t the effect last even five minutes after Yom Kippur is over? Because on Yom Kippur, when I’m so close to G-d, it is just me and G-d, but the minute there is a world, G-d disappears. Let’s say I love my wife very much when I am with her. But then I walk out onto the street, and already I forget that she exists.

How do you get it all together?

How do you get it all together? Here I want you to know something. The Greeks offer us a beautiful world, but that’s all. Yiddishkeit basically offers us a world; there is only one G-d. There is just me and G-d. So I want you to know something – we lost our children because children want the world. Sure they want to think sometimes that there is no world, just you and me, you and G-d. But where is the beautiful world?

So on Hanukah, the Hashmonaim really got it together. They brought in Hanukah lights. Everybody knows Hanukah is mehadrin min hamehadrin, beautiful and more beautiful, and we kindle lights in the house. The house is a place where I’m just alone, where I’m alone with my children. I’m kindling lights by the door and I’m shining into the world. Because the real truth is, the world doesn’t tear you away from G-d or from the Torah.

The time for Hanukah lights is at night. Basically, the night is a time when people can get so close, because during the night the world doesn’t exist so much. Though there is still a world.

A hidden light

The Hashmonaim say, “Gevalt, Master of the world, let me kindle the Hanukah lights!” Do you know what is so special about the lights? You are able to see them, and yet it is “Ohr Haganuz,” a hidden light that you know is not an ordinary light or just a candle burning. It is full of secrets, full of mystery, full of the deepest depths. It means that even while I see something, I’m always aware that there is something deeper, so much deeper, the part where the world doesn’t reach.

When I love someone very much, I see them, they are there, but I also know there is so much more.

Mother and children

The Torah says about our Mother Sarah, “hinei beohel [behold, she is in the tent].” The mother fixes for her children their relationship to G-d without the world. There is something between a mother and her children that is so close that it has nothing to do with the world. The father is supposed to give over to his children how to believe in G-d while in the world.

Everybody knows that the woman is the house, as it says about Sarah, “hinei beohel [behold, she is in the tent / the woman represents the house].” Therefore, on Hanukah, the deepest fixing is “ish ubeiso,” a man and his house – mamash, the husband and wife together. It is the world and yet it is without the world, beyond the world.

Can’t take your eyes off it

It is so beautiful that you can’t take your eyes off of it, and yet you know that you don’t really see it because it is so much deeper, and the deepest depths is that all your children are also kindling lights.

You don’t have to make sure that your little boy of seven puts on tefillin, but your little boy, as well as your little girl of five – are both kindling Hanukah lights. Because though perhaps what you see is seven years old, but the part you can’t see is ancient, eternal, forever, beyond time and space. On Hanukah you put it all together because you are truly close to your children when you know that what you see is only a small part of what they really are.

You know the Greeks say, “The world is only what you see.” On Hanukah, we say, “Yes, we see a world, it is beautiful, but gevalt there is so much more!”

Our Holy Sages teach us, “We are not permitted to make any use of them [the candles] except watching them.” We look at the lights and see everything nobody sees.

You know, friends, Israel is the same way. Everybody knows that on Hanukah we fix our eyes. We fix the sin of the ten spies [who were sent by Moses to the Holy Land]. Because what was wrong there? The spies looked at Israel and saw only what they saw. They didn’t see that which can’t be seen. But when you see what you can’t see, then you look again and you see a different world. And everybody knows that on Hanukah, when you kindle the lights, suddenly, every house becomes a different world. Suddenly every house is Israel, every house is the Holy Temple, and every child that kindles the lights is the High Priest. Good Yom Tov.



Daily Torah Quote

Joke of the day

How do you know which part of the service the congregation has reached? It’s very simple – if one third of the congregation is outside then they are davening (praying); if half the congregation is outside then they’re reading the Torah (Bible). Ah, but if everyone is outside then the Rabbi must be giving a speech!