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December 07, 1990 - Image 168

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ttie° Menorah Sparks Conviction Growth

By LEAH ANN KLEINFELDT

The mitzvah of lighting the
Chanukah menorah is very
precious. It is a two-fold mitzvah.
One is to publicize the miracle and
the other, to re-kindle hope in the
heart of every Jew.
The Chanukah menorah
(Chanukiah) is one of the most
distinctive ceremonial objects.
Originally only oil lamps were used
for Chanukah. However, in the 18th
and 19th centuries, the growing use
of candles resulted in the gradual
replacement of the oil lamps used
on Chanukah. The oil menorah is
retained in most traditional Jewish
homes since the original miracle
occurred with pure olive oil used in
the Temple menorah. Oil was
therefore considered by Jewish law
as preferable to candles.
On Chanukah, the lights of the
menorah are kindled by the
shamas, the lead or service light.
Every Chanukah menorah has such
a special light, whose sole purpose
is to provide the spark for the
others.
The importance of the spark
can be seen in the following story:
A young man who had become
an apprentice to a blacksmith,
learned during the course of his
training how to hold the tongs, how
to lift the hammer, how to smite the
anvil, and how to blow the fire with
the billows.
Having finished his
apprenticeship, he was chosen to
be employed at the royal smithery.
The young man's delight at his
appointment soon turned to despair,
however, when he discovered that
he had failed to learn how to kindle
a spark.
All of his skill and knowledge in
handling the tools were of no avail
because he had not learned the
most elementary principle — to light
the fire.
The lesson the shamas teaches
us is that unless we are fired with
conviction, what we do will be
essentially meaningless. The spark
that kindles a world, a people, or a
person, illuminates the causes in
which we are involved and fires us
with the energy to carry through.
The lighting of the menorah
according to the custom most
widely followed is as follows: On the
first night one kindles the lamp at
the extreme right of the menorah;
on the second night one adds a
light to the left of the first one and
kindles this light first before moving
to the right and lighting the one at
the extreme right. This procedure is

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1990

repeated every night. First one
kindles the added light and then
kindles the rest, moving from left to
right.
The lighting of the menorah is
sometimes compared to spiritual
growth.
It is said that spiritual growth
should be gradual. A person should
adapt himself to each new level and
integrate what he has achieved
before going on to the next step.
Gradual growth provides one with a
firm foundation. Eight lights the first
night would be too much and too
soon, and each night thereafter
would show no increase in light.
On the first night, three
blessings are said before kindling
the menorah. On all subsequent
nights thte third blessing is omitted
and only the first two are recited:

FIRST BLESSING: The Mitzvah
"Blessed are You, HASHEM
our God, King of the universe, Who
has sanctified us with His
commandments, and commanded
us to kindle the Chanukah light."
SECOND BLESSING: The Miracle
"Blessed are You, HASHEM
our God, King of the universe, Who
has wrought miracles for our
forefathers, in those days at this
season."

THIRD BLESSING: "Time"
"Blessed are You, HASHEM
our God, King of the universe, Who
has kept us alive, sustained us, and
brought us to this season."

A beautiful Chanukah custom is
to place the Chanukah menorah at
the doorway of one's home in such
a way that the mezuzah is to the

right and the Chanukah lights are to
the left. In following this custom a
person is surrounded by mitzvot.
Another reason for lighting the
Chanukah menorah at one's
doorway is to demonstrate how the
days of Chanukah are symbolically
the beginning of the rededication of
the world.
The miracle of Chanukah was
that a tiny bit of oil lasted for eight
days. An even greater miracle is
that the glow of the Chanukah
menorah and the special smells and
sounds of Chanukah build
memories that are truly an eternal
gift to ourselves and our children.

Leah Ann Kleinfeldt is assistant
executive director of the Jewish
Community Center of Metropolitan
Detroit.

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