The second Perek of Maseches Shabbos spends a lot of time of time discussing Chanukah. On the bottom of 22b the Gemorah continues a dispute as to whether one has to kindle a new flame to light the Chanukah candles, or if you could take an existing light and just use that to light the candles. The Gemorah says “Come and hear a proof for Rava, (who said you must kindle a new light). If you take a candle that is lit already and put it in your doorway, you have not fulfilled your obligation!” The Gemorah on the top of 23B brings another proof that the light must be kindled and not be a pre-existing flame. It states “we have a known case where if you have a candle lit on Shabbos and that’s the candle you plan on using for Chanukah candles on Saturday night, after Shabbos you must blow the existing flame out in order to then light that same candle as a Chanukah candle.” The Gemorah concludes that this is in fact how we must fulfill our obligation today.
The message of this Gemorah could not come more clearly to me as I am here in Israel studying for a year. These last few months have given me an opportunity for real growth, and has given me an idea for the direction I want to take the rest of my life. The Chanukah candles that must be newly kindled parallel the new beginning that I am starting in Israel this year. It is the beginning of real adulthood, where after this year, college, work, and family all come into the picture. It is the beginning of figuring out who you want to be as a person the rest of your life, and it is the beginning of becoming a Jewish leader in the future.
Shortly after the previous debate in the Gemorah, the Gemorah continues on to another debate regarding what type of oil you can use to light the candles. The Gemorah begins, “Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi says that any oil can be used for the candles but olive oil is the preferred.” The Gemorah continues, “You might have thought that sesame oil was better to use because it lasts longer, but really olive oil is still the best oil to use.
The messages of this debate speak directly to a very important life lesson. The lesson here is that there are always many ways to perform an act. You could do it, just to get it over with and say you did it, or you could care about the act, doing it as perfectly as possible, creating something beautiful. Other oils will allow you to fulfill the obligation, but olive oil will allow you to fulfill your obligation in the best way possible. On top of this idea the lesson we could learn from the sesame oil builds upon this previous message. Not only should we try to do things in the greatest and most perfect way possible, but even if on the surface it looks like one thing might be better, like the sesame oil, we must always look beyond our initial inclinations to find the greatest possible way.
These messages should bring a bright Chanukah where we do things to the best of our ability in order to jump-start a successful year going forward!
Student Studying in Yeshivat Hakotel