The days of Chanukah are a time to thank Hashem and praise His Great Name: “…for Your miracles, for Your wonders and for Your salvations.” We recall what Hashem did for our forefathers and for us as a nation – how He, in His great love for us, saved us from countless enemies – people who were much bigger and stronger than us.
But, Chanukah is much more than a memorial; it’s meant to teach us an important lesson. Our gratitude and praises that we sing during the eight days of Chanukah are the very reason why the story of Chanukah had to happen in the first place.
Whenever we find ourselves in a dark and painful situation, we can learn from this message of Chanukah and have emunah that a y’shuah will come, as long as we are doing our end.
According to the Baal Shem Tov, everyone must go through five stages in life:
1) Experience suffering
2) Accept the suffering in love as an atonement
3) Pray that the suffering or difficult experience should end
4) Experience a y’shuah
5) Thank and praise Hashem
Three of these steps we have control over, two of them not. We can’t choose which painful situations will be sent to us or how long they will last; but we can certainly decide how to respond to them.
Accepting the suffering with love means we make the choice to recognize the Source of our situation, instead of merely focusing on the players within it. We hear Hashem calling us, telling us through the experience: “Return to Me!” And we constantly remind ourselves that this moment is meant to not only atone for past actions, but to keep us on our personal path of emes and to a greater awareness of G-d’s Presence in the world. This awareness is our unique portion in the Torah. But Hashem doesn’t want us to stop there. He wants us to pray to Him that all the pain and difficulty, all the negative thoughts and desires that rise up within us, should be removed – even if we feel like we can’t change a thing, even if we feel like we will right away fall back into the same deep, dark pit in which we now find ourselves.
Hashem then responds by sending a y’shuah – one that is in proportion to the way we davened and the amount of emunah we have. And, as our y’shuah unfolds, a great light is revealed. We begin to see Hashem’s Hand in the circumstances that surround us. We come to understand a new aspect of Hashem and our relationship to Him. We naturally develop gratitude and sing praises to Him on account of it.
This is precisely why we are here. We were brought into this world in order to find Hashem within it and to then express our knowledge of His Presence to others. This knowledge is no small thing. As our Sages say, “Anyone one who has knowledge of Hashem, it’s as if the Beis HaMikdash is built in his day” (B’rachos 33).
Hashem wants us to seek Him and find Him; He wants our gratitude and praises. But, that can only happen in the fullest sense after we’ve experienced a personal y’shuah.
David HaMelech says in T’hilim 118:21: “Od’cha ki anisani, va’t’hi li liy’shuah–I give Thanks to You because You afflicted me and You were for me a salvation.” We can have emunah that our prayers are not in vain, that a y’shuah will come, because the situations and places that we find ourselves in are not by chance. They and all of their details are there in order for us to find the light hidden within and then reveal that light to the world.
David explains in T’hilim: “He delivered me from my enemy most strong, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but Hashem was a stay unto me. He brought me forth into a large place; He delivered me, because He desired [something] in me” (T’hilim 18:18-20).
This is the message of Chanukah: that Hashem is there in the darkness, waiting to bring us out of whatever galus we are in. But, we have to believe that we are good enough and important enough for that to happen. We have to encourage ourselves with the idea that Hashem desires something in me, and only I, and I alone, have the ability to bring it out and shine it into the world.
Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.