Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smiles: "G-d Loves You!"

Not the title you'd necessarily expect for a Chanukah blog post but I'll explain... First, though, a few Chanukah treats from some blogger friends of mine. Like this finger-snappin' tune on Ki Yachol Nuchal!

And can you find what's wrong with these Chanukah ads?
If you can't see them clearly here - and/or for many more "gotta love 'em" signs from Israel, visit A Time of the Signs.

Now for that explanation I promised: In 2009, "The Land of PO - Revisited" pretty much summed up my feelings about living in Israel during my favorite of holidays there. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading that post and I humbly suggest that you do, too. Of course, there's always more to tell about the five consecutive Chanukahs that we merited to celebrate as residents of the place where the miracles occurred...about our family trip to the Chashmonaim Village
Ancient Olive Press
where we tried out the ancient olive presses...and how we stuck to the PO theme by going out for a Chanukah dinner at a wonderful Jerusalem restaurant called "AproPO" (which has since closed so don't go looking for it) and taking the kids to see "Ari PO-tehr" (Harry Potter)...

But none of that seemed very blog worthy - and yet I couldn't let Chanukah go by without offering something personal to my faithful readership. So I decided that while I'm sharing other people's stuff, I'd share a Chanukah thought that I heard at my weekly Na'aleh class. (Na'aleh has been providing me with interesting and inspirational classes which I "attend" by curling up in my comfy den chair and logging on to this excellent site.) Mrs. Shira Smiles (yes, that's really her name), a sought-after speaker and educator - in Israel, of course - asked the question that so many Torah sages have asked: If the main miracle of Chanukah was the battle that the Jews won against the Y'vanim, why do we make a much bigger deal about the less important miracle of the small amount of oil that burned for eight days?

One of many answers is that because of G-d's promise to our forefathers, He had no choice but to miraculously save the small, weak nation of Israel from the Hellenists' goal of our total spiritual annihilation. They didn't want to exterminate us physically as much as to completely destroy us spiritually. But G-d had said that would never happen so He enabled the Maccabees to lead a stunning victory over their enemies.

Then came the oil issue.
There wasn't enough pure olive oil for lighting the menorah in the Temple until more pure olive oil could be produced. Well, who said they had to use pure olive oil if they didn't have any? They didn't NEED a miracle - they could've used less-than-perfectly-pure oil in this emergency situation. But G-d wanted to show His children how proud He was of them for standing up for what was right; for fighting against all odds to defend their sacred Torah. So He performed a miracle that He didn't have to perform - just to show how much He loves us. And that's what Chanukah is all about. Our rabbis teach that there is still some of that loving miracle in every Chanukah candle we light today - we just have to look deep into those flames to see it, to harness the power of G-d's daily loving miracles, to recognize it and thank Him for it. And that, says Mrs. Smiles, is why we focus on the miracle of the oil rather than our miraculous victory in battle. As a reminder that G-d loves us.

Tapping into G-d's loving miracles can be accomplished anywhere on the planet - and I've been trying hard to do that this year - but it's so much easier in the Land where "the Eyes of G-d...are always upon it" (Devarim 11:12) .

When I Remember Jerusalem many miracles come to mind:
In rains that fall, we see G-d's hand; in crops that grow on desert land.
In thriving through the centuries, surrounded by our enemies.
The little things we take for granted, when seen as miracles become enchanted...Before I start waxing too POetic, I'll just say that miracles are simply more obvious in Israel, making daily life a lot more meaningful.

So as another Chanukah draws to a close and the new month of Teves begins, may we manage to tap into G-d's loving spirit from wherever we are and Merit Many Meaningful Miracles of Maccabean Magnitude!

Chanukah Sameyach and Chodesh Tov!