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Oh, Chanukah!

Oh, Chanukah! The mere mention of this holiday calls forth a plethora of associations. The tantalizing aroma of sizzling latkes, traditional Chanukah songs like Hanerot Halalu and Maoz Tzur, clinking of Chanukah coins, glowing lights. And Moshiach.

How does Moshiach fit in to this string of associations? For one thing, when something is on our minds we tend to find associations to it everywhere. Moshiach is an all-encompassing concept that relates to everything we do. But Chanukah has a particular relationship with Moshiach, for several reasons.

What, after all, are we celebrating? After routing the Greek army, the Jewish soldiers' first move was to rush to the Holy Temple to restore its purity, which the Greeks had defiled. They cleaned out all vestiges of the idols that the Greeks had set up there, and searched desperately for pure olive oil that they could use to light the menorah. Upon finding one small jar that the Greeks had not tampered with, the Jews used it to light the menorah, and of course, it miraculously burned for eight days.

Just reciting the story of Chanukah calls to mind the glory of the ancient Temple and awakens in our soul a yearning to see the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The coming of Moshiach will usher in an era of adherence and dedication to Torah and mitzvot. The miracle of Chanukah revolves around light, a symbol for all of Torah and mitzvot, as in the verse, "For mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is light."

On Chanukah, the primary observance is to light candles, beginning with one and gradually adding a candle until the eighth night, when the complete menorah is illuminated. The Chanukah lights bring radiance to the entire home, representing the spiritual glow that mitzvot bring to our lives. Light is also a metaphor for the Infinite Light of G-d, in the sense that light expands endlessly in all directions, and one candle can ignite thousands more, without being diminished in the slightest.

The fact that we light an additional candle each night denotes that we must constantly strive for higher growth and achievement. We can never be satisfied with what we've accomplished in the past; we must seek out greater challenges and opportunities.

The Chanukah lights must be lit in a place where they can be seen on the outside. This indicates that we must not keep the light and enthusiasm of our mitzvot to ourselves; the inspiration must expand from our boundaries and reach even those who are as yet outside its protective glow.

For all these reasons and more, Chanukah is a perfect time to experience the complete revelation of Moshiach. Then we will merit watching as the menorah is kindled in the newly rebuilt, third Holy Temple, may it happen immediately.

(Based on an address of the Rebbe, Shabbat Chanukah 5751)



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