This Chanukah story did not take place during the Hellenist Empire time when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was defiled. It takes place in more recent times, when, once again, a cruel tyrant, crueler than the Hellenist Syrian Antiochus, declared an open war against the people of the Covenant, threatening to extinguish them and their eternal light.
This story takes place during the Second World War in a wretched Nazi Hungarian labor camp, a place unsuited for human beings dwelling; a place of horror and repugnance; a labor camp where many Jews assembled to wait their unknown fate.
Among the many Jews gathered there was one brave man named Chaim Kirsch. Chaim was a Rabbi who maintained a dignified attitude. He always managed to give hope and solace to his despairing brothers and sisters.
Since the early summer days of his entering the camp, Rabbi Kirsch has been saving some oil from his meals. By the time Chanukah came he had enough to prepare and improvised a Chanukah Light holder, the Menorah. He managed to obtain a potato, carved it and filled it with the saved oil. He then cut off a little piece from his shirt and made a wick out of it and was then ready to bless the first light of Chanukah. In the silent darkness of this Chanukah eve, the Rabbi’s first words seemed to have come from a remote place, like a voice from far away, from heaven.
“My dear brothers and sisters,” he whispered, “tonight is Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, the festival that brings a message of hope to all the oppressed.” He then went on to recite the three blessings over the first Chanukah Light. Without tears in his eyes, with solemn hope and courage, coming from the bottom of his heart, he continued while the tinny flame threw a dim light in the barrack illuminating the sad faces of the gathered.
“My brothers and sisters, tonight, it is no time for despair. Look at this tinny flame and try to understand what it signifies.” When the high priest was about to light up the Menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem, God made him a promise. Although from time to time, when Israel turns away from God, the Menorah of the Temple might be put out; there would always be a light that kindles. This kindled light would bring light and hope to His children in their darkest of hours. This light was to be the Chanukah Lights.
Once again a cruel tyrant, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, who may turn to be even more brutal than Hitler, declared an open war against the Jewish people and is threatening to annihilate the eternal light of the third Jewish sovereignty.
Let us not despair, rather pray for the wisdom that will illuminate the House of Israel.
Let us pray for unity and love within the House of Israel, so God may fulfill the promise of the Covenant and Israel becomes admirable and the nations of the world shall then walk following her light, and the kings by the brightness of her rising.
Chag Sameach the nation of Israel. Brighten up the dim lights of the world.