Just as physical light is generated by a candle, the light of Torah is generated by a mitzvah candle. Without the candle of mitzvot to dispel the darkness there can be no light of Torah! Through the mitzvah candle we attain the Torah light, which is the inner light of the Essence of G-d - the source of light that has to shine below in order to transform the spiritual darkness of this world into light.
The Greeks defiled all the oil in the
The Chashmonaim [Maccabees] overpowered and defeated the Greeks through their complete devotion to G-d, to the extent that they gave up their lives (their existence) to reveal G-d's existence (the idea of the mitzvah candle, as above). Afterwards, they instituted the lighting of the Chanukah candles, which is the same idea as the Torah light.
by Rabbi Shaul Leiter
The observance of nearly all the holidays, including Shabbos, is centered around festive meals. The only exception is Chanukah, where by Rabbinical decree, the lighting of the candles is not only the primary ceebration, it is the only celebration. This serves to focus our attention on the miracle of the oil staying lit for 8 days, and not on the military victory over the Greeks. The reason for this is that the Greeks did not seek to kill us, but to make us forget our Judaism (see the paragraph "al hanisim" ["on the miracles"] that is added in the Amidah and in Grace After Meals) and accept their philosophies and approach to life.
What is the difference between the Jewish way and the Greek/western civilization one? Man-made philosophies accept only those ideas that make sense to human intelligence. Anything that cannot be understood by the intellect is out. Therefore, the Greeks accepted, for instance, the existence of G-d, His unity, His first-ness and His eternalness, but they denied G-d's "micro-management" and the Torah commandments, asking what does the Creator care if we eat meat with milk or not. A Jew, on the other hand, believes that G-d is higher than any level of wisdom and knowledge, that no thought can contain the Almighty at all, even the most lofty. Even more, one challenge of our G-d given ability to think is to understand that we and our intellect are limited and to believe and have faith in the basic foundations of the Torah. The miracle of Chanukah is an expression of G-dly wisdom overpowering human intellect.
This is the message of the Chanukah candles. Just as the number of candles increase night by night-more light dispelling the darkness, goodness excelling over evil-so also we are empowered to use our intellect at its maximum potential to be a candle dispelling darkness. Just as we light the candles to shine outwards, to be seen by others, so also each of us in our lives should also be like candles to shine outwards, examples of positive action to others.
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