On Chanuka we commemorate the miracle by lighting the candles. It seems very appropriate that this is our expression of the events that took place during the Greek occupation of Eretz Yisroel. The Greek culture was a revolution that took the world by storm. They opened the eyes of the world and began the age of enlightenment, of tremendous wisdom that was a strong argument against an antiquated ancient religion. It became increasingly difficult for Jews to resist this new age of man which they portrayed. And yet resist they did. How was this manifest? In a tiny little flame called the light of the Menorah. This is where Chazal say true wisdom is found.
We can see this conveyed in today’s society as well. Much of the Greek culture has been carried over to our civilization today. In the media, the movies, the television we are constantly bombarded with the secular message. If you were to go to a neighborhood in Brooklyn during the holiday season you would find on one side of the street a window showing a tiny Menorah while across the street there is a house covered from top to bottom with flashing lights, reindeer on the roof and an animated snowman in the front yard. How can the tiny light of the Menorah fend off the tremendous onslaught of this secular world? The answer lies in the candle.
The Gemarrah in Shabbos says that “One who is accustomed with a candle will have children who are Talmud scholars.” The Maharal writes that a candle represents the entire world. He explains the statement as follows. One who is accustomed to looking at the whole world as a candle will have children who are Torah scholars. What does it mean to look at the world as a candle? The basic components of a candle are the oil, the wick and the flame. The Ner, Pesil and the Shemen. Each is an acronym of the word Nefesh. This represents the soul of the world.
As the candles burn down and the flames dance their last dance we might be tempted to ask “What has been gained or what has been accomplished through this exercise of lighting? After the oil has gone what really remains? The Maharal explains that although the oil has been consumed the light generated from that candle continues to run its eternal course forever. What have we accomplished by performing this Mitzvah? In reality we have taken a piece of this temporal world and unlocked its eternal essence. Therefore when one is in the business of looking at the entire world like it is a candle, the whole world is seen as being packed with endless spiritual potential. Any item, each person and every moment is dense with limitless possibility. This is the Mitzvah that represents withstanding the secular onslaught.