Torah Message from Rabbi Peretz Robinson
The holiday of Hanukkah begins Sunday evening, December 2nd with the kindling of the first light, and concludes on Monday, December 10th. For me, Hanukkah is always a time for family, joyous celebration, and the giving of gifts. I recall fondly as a child looking forward to the first night of Hanukkah every year, and its attendant excitement of kindling the first light, singing Maoz Tzur, and opening presents.
At its root, the holiday of Hanukkah goes back to the conflict between Hellenistic culture and ancient Israel, and the military aggression of the Syrian Greeks toward the second Temple era Jews. The Jewish people, with the help of the Almighty, were able to route the dominant Greek forces. As a result, the Jewish leaders of that generation felt compelled to institute the holiday of Hanukkah, as an expression of giving thanks to the Almighty for the kindness that He bestowed upon His people.
Thus, in its essence Hanukkah is a holiday of thanksgiving. As the text of the "Al Hanissim" prayer reads, "lehodot ul'hallel l'shimcha hagadol ,to give thanks and praise to your great name". Hanukkah is a time for all of us to reflect upon and appreciate all the kindness that the Almighty has done for us in our lives. What are you thankful for at this Hanukkah season?