Public Fasts for Rain
The rainy season in Israel is important because the country does not have many natural resources for water, and one depends on the goodness of Hashem to receive rain/water.
As the calendar progressed to Chodesh Kisleiv without rain, the Mishnah (Ta’anis 2:5-6) prescribes a series of obligatory public fasts. But given the celebration of Chanukkah, no fasting is allowed on those days.
Food as Connection
Food is seen as a barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds, and suppressing both desire and need for it would facilitate one’s ability to navigate between them.
At Chanukkah, it is customary to eat food made in oil. Latszkes, sufganiyot, etc. We should feed on oil. Oil is a reference to the wisdom, the chochmah, of the Torah.
Chanukkah should be specifically a connection between the physical and the spiritual world. The physical light – visible to the whole world – should make people long for the true light of Torah and truth, should make people curious, and it should make one want to feed on the oil of Torah to grow spiritually and improve oneself.
The Wick and the Flame
Man’s body is like a wick. The flame is the Divine radiance of the soul. However, only if there is oil the wick can suck it up and the flame can burn. A person in this life will have to absorb the chochmah, the wisdom found in the Torah. One of the most important lessons in the Torah is that we must learn selflessness.
You do something for another human being not to expect something in return, but because it is the right thing to do.
The same applies to the mitzvot. You do them, not because you expect a reward from Hashem, but you do them because it is the right thing to do, better yet you do them because Hashem wants you to.
By Angelique Sijbolts
Sources: Chabad Article: When did Chanukah become an official Jewish holiday?, Chabad Article: Returning in the Right Direction, Sefaria, Flames by Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch
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