The festival of Chanuka provides a golden opportunity to strengthen one of our core beliefs that is too often taken for granted but is in fact, a major challenge for many of our children. The concept of Emunah Peshuta, straightforward belief in Hashem, unencumbered by philosophical and psychological complexities, is proving elusive to many of today’s young Jews.
To be sure, questioning, analyzing and probing are valuable tools in the thinking Jew’s arsenal. At the end of the day, however, what is the `default’ position of our beliefs? When a crisis occurs, when earth-shattering events unfold – do we look to explanations based on politics, social theory, historical trends, charismatic personalities, or do we see the hand of Hashem animating the events of our lives? All the layers of `natural occurrences’ that cover the hidden direction that Hashem provides for events need to be peeled away in order for us to recognize the truth of what really lies beneath everything that happens to us.
This is one of the great messages of Chanuka. No matter how you interpret the events surrounding the Chashmonaim’s defeat of the mightiest army in the world, you cannot escape the obvious – that Hashem made a miracle. There is no other explanation. As the last of the holidays that our Rabbis instituted for our people, Chanuka comes to drive this lesson home – that the Jewish people’s fate does not rest on the size of the enemy’s army, on the statistical probabilities that seem stacked against us, nor is it restricted by seemingly limited resources, as the small jug of oil demonstrated. Just as the many can be defeated by the few, so too can a long expanse of darkness be illuminated by a very limited power source.
Our children need to internalize this lesson. The true source of illumination, the real power behind an army is our G-d. No matter how bleak things look Hashem is there, watching, waiting, caring and ready to respond decisively on our behalf, when the time is ripe. Our children need to be Ma’aminim Bnei Ma’aminim – Believers, the children of Believers. We first need to strengthen ourselves in this most basic fundamental of our faith, and then we can imbue our children with the same strength of conviction.
May the lights of Chanuka shed light on this bedrock faith of ours, and may we always keep our focus on the greatest of truths – that everything that happens is the will of Hashem. This immovable faith has sustained us throughout thousands of years of suffering, and this faith is what will bring us to be able to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, may he come speedily, in our times.
Best wishes for an Inspiring Shabbos and an Illuminating Chanuka,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann