Those of us who look towards Judaism’s religious portfolio: what is it that we are seeking? Our holidays are special times when we can lean into our observance, practice, sacred stories and rituals with the expectation that we might find what we are looking for. The holiday of Hanukah is no exception. But sometimes when we come to a spiritual moment with an agenda, we might not be open to the other gifts that are awaiting. I want to offer an idea about Hanukah that I am afraid many of us often don’t consider.
Rabbi Menachem Nochum Twersky (1730 – 1787), the Me’or Eynayim, explains that the story is filled with metaphors understanding the oil to represent wisdom. Reread, the story of Hanukah means that when the people returned, they were in search of wisdom and all they were able to find was a small amount. They thought that what they found would only last for a short while and might only help in very specific situations. What they found was a wisdom greater than they could have imagined, a wisdom that lasted longer and was more applicable than ever dreamed.
Our Judaism comes with many gifts, tools and opportunities to live deeper and more meaningful lives. However, our study of Judaism, seeking wisdom, knowledge, insight and understanding is an important part of our religious life. Hanukah is a good time to rededicate ourselves to the spiritual practice of wisdom-seeking. I bet you will be surprised at what you find.
Laurence Rosenthal is senior rabbi at Ahavath Achim synagogue and president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.