If you happen to be walking around my neighborhood on any of the nights of Chanukah, you will see house after house with the blinds pulled open and menorahs shining bright, one for each member of the household. There is a reason for this. We are taught that when one experiences a miracle, we have an obligation to advertise it. We should let the world know that God was here, He did this. Chanukah is a holiday filled with meaning and with miracles. The menorah burning so bright is there to remind us of this.
The reason most talked about for lighting the menorah is the miracle that happened with the oil. Every synagogue has an eternal light hanging in it. It is a light that never goes out. It is there to remind us of God’s presence in our lives, He is always there.
The miracle happened after the Greeks destroyed the Holy Temple. The Jews came back to discover it had been completely defiled. After much searching, they found one small jar of pure olive oil to use. They were happy and disappointed at the same time. They had enough oil to light the eternal light, but it would only last for one day, it would take eight to make more oil. They lit the light and watched as every day the lamp continued to burn. God had shown them that if you just put forth a little effort, if you start the job, He will help you.
When you compare this to other miracles- the splitting of the sea, giving us food for 40 years in the desert, David beating Goliath- it seems small or insignificant, but there is no such thing as a small or insignificant miracle. I love to watch the menorahs glow, and as I do I try to remind myself of the seemingly small, every day miracles that we take for granted.
One of my favorite teachers often tells us that if we all would just recognize that each day we wake up with gifts equaling millions of dollars, gifts we rarely even acknowledge, that we would all be happier and more content. Just think about it, each morning the alarm goes off and we open our eyes. We can see. We can see the beautiful faces of our children as they greet us, this gift of sight is a miracle. How often do we remember to give thanks for it?
We can hear. We can hear the voices of our children laughing and playing, sometimes crying and fighting. We can hear it when they whisper in our ears that they love us. What sound is sweeter than that? Another miracle.
We put our feet on the floor and walk out of our rooms. When our children hold their arms up we can pick them up. We can experience that unbelievable feeling when their tiny arms circle our necks. That is absolutely a miracle.
How often do we even think about them?
On Chanukah, we light the menorah for eight nights. Each night we add a light so that the flames burn stronger and brighter as the week goes on. We are not allowed to use the light, it is only there for us to appreciate and contemplate. It reminds us that miracles are all around us. Miracles do not have to be big and obvious. Miracles can sometimes be so small that we hardly notice them. Maybe your two year old made it through the entire morning without a tantrum. Maybe your baby learned to walk today-it doesn’t matter that babies learn to walk every day, when your baby walks-it’s a miracle! Maybe your teenager said she loved you, that is definitely a miracle!
The point of the menorah is to remind us that miracles are all around us. Sometimes, all we have to do to see them, is open our eyes.