Through the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles, God’s honor radiates forth, and is uplifted and magnified in the world… —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Chanukah is often a presented as a “not very important” holiday. Common wisdom has it that Chanukah only receives attention because it occurs in the same season as non-Jewish holidays.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Chanukah (and Purim), we’re taught, will be the leading festivals in the time of the Geula, the Earth’s full redemption.
The lights, the singing, the spinning dreydles; the sizzle of latkes, sufganiyot (donuts), bimuelos, and other myriad fritters; the publicizing of the 8-days of lighting, are all precious, but there’s more.
Like a safe within a safe, hidden behind a heart-warming family photograph, in the home of a rare gem collector, the treasure that is Chanukah is so great that for now at least, much of it must remain hidden. But Rebbe Nachman of Breslov unlocks Chanukah’s glory in several of his lessons. In Likutey Moharan, Lesson 14 we learn:
The radiant lights of Chanukah have the power to awaken us and draw even those who are far away near to Hashem.
When we do the holy mitzvah of lighting the menorah, we merit a new understanding, a deep awe, of the holy Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
We are also blessed with Shalom, peace, at home. Shalom between husband and wife, children and parents, and beyond. The lighting of the candles also enhances our ability to connect to Hashem with honest words of prayer, direct from the heart.
Then, conflict and gossip are nullified, and a complete and comprehensive Shalom is brought into the all the worlds.*
Reb Nosson, Rebbe Nachman’s head talmid, disciple and scribe, was charged with not only writing down the Rebbe’s lessons and stories and originating unique commentary pulsing with Breslov thought, but also with “turning the Rebbe’s lessons into prayers.”
Here is a free translation by Avraham Greenbaum, of one of Reb Nosson’s personal prayer-masterpieces, based on Lesson 14.**
Help me to carry out the mitzvah of kindling the Chanukah lamp in its season, in the best possible way, in holiness and purity and with great devotion. Through the mitzvah of the Chanukah lights, let me rectify everything I have mentioned in my prayer. Consider my fulfillment of the mitzvah as if I had carried it out in all its details and fine points and intentions, together with all the 613 mitzvos that are bound up with it. Let the light of the holiness of our mitzvos shine before You in all the worlds. Let us repair all the worlds through fulfilling this mitzvah, together with the commandments laid down in the Torah and by the Rabbis. Help us carry out all of them perfectly, in love, awe and great joy, until we draw Godly peace into all the worlds, and “HaShem will give power to his people, HaShem will bless his people with peace.”
“He who makes peace in His high places, will lovingly make peace for us, and for all Israel, and say Amen.”
So when you light the candles you are helping create world peace. When you say Happy Chanukah to someone, you are wishing them a share in that peace.
* Excerpt and loose translation based on the Kitzur Likutey Moharan, Volume 1, Lesson 14
** From The Fiftieth Gate: Likutey Tefillos, Reb Noson’s Prayers, Volume 1