26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Chanukah - Healing the Heart    

Chanukah - Healing the Heart

Many times we feel so far from a pure, open heart. However, Chanukah has the power to shine this special light - the healing light of faith and love - into our hearts.


Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”l teaches in his book Lev HaShamayim on Chanukah (pages 32-34) that this special holiday is about rectifying and purifying our hearts. The name of this month, Kislev, can also be interpreted as כיס-לב, meaning that our hearts need to be a vessel (כיס is a pocket and לב is the heart). What does our heart need to be a vessel for? For the great light which is beyond words. This means that on the deepest level, where do I light the Chanukah candles? Inside my heart. 


This might be hard to hear, but Rebbe Nachman says that every sin which we do causes us to hate somebody else. Why? Because every sin ruins the holiness of our hearts, and everything depends on the heart. Not only does it cause us to feel hatred for another person, G-d forbid, it also causes us to hate ourselves. Every sin causes a person to distance themselves from their own soul and their own heart. 


Chanukah is a special time to rectify the heart – an opportunity to remove all of the evil and hatred from our hearts. Chanukah is the time of Aharon, the High Priest. His expertise was to bring peace between people. How do we make peace between people? By removing the hatred from our hearts. Chanukah gives us the tools to once again see the beauty, light, and intrinsic holiness in other people. Our special light also begins to shine again on Chanukah, we can again look in the mirror and see our own great light. 



Rebbe Nachman spoke a lot about the heart. He specifically wanted his students and followers to be called Breslev Chasidim. Breslev sounds similar to the Hebrew words לב בשר, lev basar- a heart of flesh. This is tied to the prophesy of Ezekiel, which mentions that G-d will replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh.  


One primary goal of his teachings is to have a feeling heart, a heart filled with knowledge and faith. His teachings are filled with incredible knowledge and advice, which he wanted us to bring into our hearts through prayer and by fulfilling his advice. Rebbe Nachman said in one of his conversations that the main aspect of true knowledge of Hashem and the Torah is when knowledge is connected to our heart. Even and especially in our heart, we need to know Hashem and have awe of Him. Our heart can also feel and experience the truth of Hashem’s existence and our faith in Him (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, teaching 217). 


Every year, I light the Chanukah candles each night and look at their beautiful light in the dark winter night, and I pray as much as I can. I say different prayers that I’ve written for myself over the years. However, I realize now after learning this teaching by Reb Shlomo that the deepest thing I’m really praying for is to have a pure heart again, to be kind and loving and open to my family and to all those I meet. King David says in his prayers, “Create a pure heart for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me” (Psalms, 51:12). I know that this is how Hashem created me and how I was as a small child.  


Many, many times I feel so far from a pure, open heart. However, Chanukah has the power to shine this special light - the healing light of faith and love - into our hearts. The light of feeling and seeing Hashem’s love in our lives all throughout the year. The light of believing in ourselves and in others, and in this way, bringing peace and love to our lives and the entire world. 


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