From early spring until the fall the Jewish people get caught up in a whirlwind of holidays: Purim, Passover, Shavuot, the fasts of the 17th Tammuz and the 9th of Av and then of course Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. When you are in the middle of festivities, planning, cooking, shopping, cleaning, and building, you can more easily reach a feeling of closeness to G-d and His Torah. But then comes the cold winter months of nothingness, and perhaps, distance. However, in the middle of this very darkness, G-d gave us the festival of lights, Chanukah.
Chanukah has two very important aspects about it: publicizing and educating. It's one of the only holidays where we are commanded to actually go out and "publicize" the miracle. It is captivating to see the wicks of the many Menorah's flickering from the windows and doorposts of every home.
Publicizing is an easy component of Chanukah to understand, but what does it have to do with education? The word "Chanukah" means inauguration and has the same root as the word "leChanech"- to educate and "Chinuch" - education. In the middle of the dark winter months, G-d performed miracles for us. He enabled a few Jews to win a war of survival against the huge Greek army and he enabled the amount of one day's worth of oil to burn for eight. What happens when you light a candle in the dark? It illuminates everything and grabs your attention. This is Chanukah, and this is the lesson of education. Before your child acts out and misbehaves to get your attention and before, G-d forbid, your child distances himself from you, ignite a spark, captivate, and get their attention.
This is the festival of Chanukah. It's the holiday where G-d tells us, "I'm here,
don't turn away from Me. Even in your most obscure moment, I'm the flame that illuminates
your way." With the miracle of a burning light G-d taught us this key on how to
raise and educate our children. Be their light and grab their attention.
A happy Hanukah to all!