10 Tishrei 5781 / Monday, September 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
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The Holiday of Education    

The Holiday of Education

There is a good reason why Chanukah is tied to both light, and education – true education only comes through light. Don’t fight the darkness – light a candle!



There is a good reason why Chanukah is tied to both light, and education. (The Hebrew root of “Chanukah” is חנכ - as in chinuch - education). True education only comes through light. In education, you don’t try to chase away the darkness – rather, you create light, and the darkness goes away on its own. 


Learn from Chanukah, that even though it is cold and dark outside, one single little candle has the ability to light up everything. Every good word you give to your children, every moment that you give them love and attention – lights another candle. And “these candles are holy” - the time that you set aside to spend with your children is sacred, a time during which you are the Kohen Gadol - the High Priest in the Holy Temple who is lighting the candles of the Menorah, until you set the hearts of your children aflame and it burns bright on its own. 


When parents are happy serving Hashem, when they do the mitzvot with happiness, eagerness and alacrity - they light a candle in their children. When they sing at the Shabbat table, and also during the week, and dance with joy that they had the merit to do a mitzvah, or just because they are happy! – they light a candle in their children. And when parents thank Hashem, and especially thank Hashem and truly appreciate not only for their physical blessings, but also for all the spiritual wealth that Hashem has poured on them - for their kippah, and tzitzit, and Shabbat, and the holidays, and so much more – they light big, bright candles in their children. 


Many times I have asked the question: “How could it be that one morning a Jew said the blessing “thank you God, for not creating me as a non-Jew" and then go join the Greeks, become a Hellenist, and start acting like a non-Jew, in the afternoon?” It simply isn’t possible! 


The answer is simple: Clearly, the Jews who became Hellenists didn’t appreciate their Judaism! They did not make that blessing with fervor! They didn’t see the light in Judaism, and the happiness and worth in it. So, they looked elsewhere for meaning according to what they did appreciate. If they had truly appreciated the light and joy of serving God and the wisdom of His Torah, they would never have been lured away by the illusion of “freedom” from the commandments and the “wisdom” taught in the Greek gymnasiums.  


Everyone wants to be happy – and our children are no exception. When children see happy parents, then they want to follow on the same path, and be happy too! But if they see parents who God forbid, complain about the cost of keeping God’s Torah and fulfilling the commandments, or who are even just generally sad, depressed and burdened – then why do they want to set themselves up to suffer a similar fate? Happy parents bring light into their home and spark the flame in their children to love Hashem and His Torah, and therefore, their children follow in the path of light. 


We can also learn from the miracle of the oil, that even if you see a lot of negative in your children – don't forget that on Chanukah, the few overcame the many, and the power of good defeated the power of evil. Learn to encourage the little good that is in your children, and then, take it a step further. Only let yourself see that good in your children, and relate to them as if that is all that there is! Then, you will see how that little good will defeat the bad, and they will completely divorce themselves from their bad traits altogether. Now, you will have truly good children who will bring you satisfaction and happiness. 


If this is true for our children, it is also true of our spouses, family, and all the people around us. Our Sages teach that the light and holiness of the Chanukah candles can reach even the darkest, lowest places. We must never give up on the good in another person! Rather, we must stoke the fire – pray for them, and teach them about emuna, happiness, and thanking Hashem for everything! You don’t have to be an orator or a Rabbi to spread emuna and light up the world. I have done all the work for you – just distribute the books, CDs and pamphlets that have already changed millions of lives. You can even just leave them in a waiting room etc. - you never know what Hashem might do with them! 


It should be God’s will that in the merit of Chanukah, the holiday of education, that we should merit to have true satisfaction from our children, and see them grow to be strong and healthy in body, soul, mind and spirit, and truly successful in life! 


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