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What is the spiritual root of Hanukah? Why do we light candles, and who were the Maccabim, anyway?

There is a root in the spiritual world for all that exists – a root that initiates and motivates our behavior, our thoughts, our emotions, and the various events we experience. Everything that we can possibly imagine.

The wisdom of Kabbalah describes the enchanted reality as it is revealed to those who have reached the world of the spirit. Anyone wishing to understand the course of our lives can reach that world. It offers those who come to its gates a chance to consciously control their lives, to attain a supreme delight they have never felt before.

Those who bond with this world sense it as a complete reality, describing it in our language, just as we describe our own reality.

If both you and your friend observe a flower, it's quite possible that each of you will have a different impression of it in your minds. For instance, you might admire its beauty and your friend its scent. But you will both agree that it is, for example, a red rose.

Similarly, anyone who bonds with the eternal world, describes what they've seen in a language only those who've been there understand.

In the world of the spirit, there are no flowers. There are wants and desires that disclose themselves in a predetermined order. Anyone who reaches that world will go through the same phases as his predecessors.

The cycle of spiritual development is called a “year” because in each and every phase, one faces the same desires one has met in previous phases, but on a deeper level, helping one understand oneself that much better.

Thus, a Kabbalist observing his own desires lives through six thousand years of growth before he reaches his destiny and succeeds in receiving all the pleasures a human can sense. Because the issue is internal development, which is detached from the physical reality by which we live, a Kabbalist can live through all six thousand years (phases) in as few as five to ten years of his life.

In the course of these years he encounters recurrent situations of revelation which aid him in ascending to the next degree. The Kabbalists call the degrees “holidays” and “Saturdays”.

The holidays and Sabbath in our world were determined by Kabbalists to allow those people who wished to, but were not Kabbalists, to act in the flesh in accordance with the spiritual world.

That is why we celebrate the holidays each year and the Sabbath each week. A Kabbalist can, however, celebrate the Passover internally even when the holiday is months away, because there's no connection between our spiritual state and the physical time by which we live.

Of all the holidays, Hanukah and Purim are considered special. There are a number of reasons for this. First, they are not written in the Torah. Second, it is said that when all corrections have been made, all the holidays will be canceled except those two. Third, the two holidays are directly connected to the rebuilding of the temple.

Spiritually, the temple signifies the place where Creator and creature bond.

The destruction of the temple is a breaking of the bond between the two. That bond is what Kabbalists are trying to rebuild.

There are two phases to the corrections. In the first, the human must learn how to rise above his egocentric nature and attain a tool (called vessel of bestowal) with which to bond with the spiritual world. This is the correction phase.

After that comes the receiving phase, when the human might receive tremendous pleasures using the newly acquired tool.

A thirsty man, holding in his hand a broken glass, must first repair the glass before he can fill it up and drink from it. He who feels the detachment from spirituality must first mend his bond with the Creator before he can receive the offered goods.

Hanukah marks and celebrates the attainment of the vessels of bestowal. It is a spiritual holiday, belonging to the first half of the work – the correction. That is why one can divide its name in two: Hanu (parked, rested) Kkah as a symbol of the rest, the break the human takes once he has corrected his vessel and before he starts to fill it.

Hanukah candles symbolize the Light of Mercy one attains when one has reached the spiritual world. The light gradually increases during the holiday, hence the lighting of an extra candle each day.

The festivities we celebrate stem from a complex relationship between varying situations in our soul.

Israel stands for the force that drives us directly to the Creator (Isr comes from the word Yashar, direct, and El is the Hebrew word for God. The word Israel means “directly to God”), to the spiritual reason behind this world.

The Greek are the desires that oppose man's spiritual development. They tell him it is unreasonable to go beyond the law of nature, to commune with the upper world. They claim it has no rationality. The Greek weaken Israel's strength using logical arguments that originate in one's accumulating experience in this world.

The Greek did not want to annihilate Israel, as did Haman, they simply wanted to 'kill' Israel's approach to life. They wanted to place man made statues in the temple and make Israel bow before them. They did not fight for materialistic domination, they fought for a spiritual one.

The Israel in man must recruit the struggle of the power of faith against the Greeks' arguments. Israel tell the Greek that it is right from a logical point of view, but Israel believe it's possible to go beyond the barriers of reason, to the world of the causes. The stronger the Greeks grow, the more powerful Israel's faith becomes. This war goes on and on until it takes a miracle for Israel to win. But then the miracle occurs.

The miracle of Hanukah is that one finally succeeds in bonding with what was so longed for. Furthermore, a beautiful, enchanted world appears, far more wonderful than one can imagine. Then one realizes just how true Israel's road had been and why it's good to stick by it from now on.

The victory over the Greek is the foundation of any creature's path in the spiritual realm. It allows one to perform corrections that will lead to the final frontier, that of Purim, the fight in which one succeeds in attaining the endless, eternal bounty that the Creator has prepared for all.


Author: G. Shadmon
Translator: C. Ratz
proofed by N. Ben Aharon


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