What I Do Every Night of Chanukah
Every night of Chanukah, after I light my candles, I sit down and watch them for half an hour.
Rabbanit Yemima, quoting the Chavat Yair, instructed us to do this many years ago…To stop the treadmill we’re on 305 days a year (365 minus 52 Shabbats and 8 days of Chanukah) and just sit.
And I will tell you the truth, JewishMOM. There are few things in life that are quite as wonderful as those minutes when I stop flipping fattening things in frying pans and tidying up and answering the phone and wiping little noses and just sit and nooootiiiice…
What do I notice?
I notice those candles. How richly pure the flames look, 38%-cream pure, 24-carat-diamond pure. As pure as Torah, as pure as Hashem.
And I notice my children. How often do I stop frying and tidying and phone-answering and nose-wiping long enough to actually take a good look and feel wonder over the child whose upper lip I am wiping?
Last night, watching my richly pure candles, I remembered our old house in Nachlaot which I had loved so much for 13 years. And I thought of how many thousands of hours I spent cleaning and tidying that house. “The person who cleans while children are growing is like the person who shovels while it is still snowing.” That was me. For 13 years.
And it was important to clean. It was important to attempt to keep that house somewhat tidy and normal for my husband and kids and me (though rarely with much success– repeat after me: “The person who cleans while children are growing…”)
But after we left that house three months ago, I was surprised by just how immediately I forgot all about it. Like a discarded peanut shell.
Because a family in a home, I understand now, is like a soul in a body.
I only attended a burial once, but it was a very powerful experience. The woman being buried was the mother of someone I respect immensely, and as she was being buried I realized that her body was no more important than that peanut shell, while her soul as well as her many good deeds were untouched by death. They would live on into eternity.
And on Chanukah I realize to what an extent, 305 days a years, I am focused almost entirely on the peanut shell of my home. The schedules and the managing and the cleaning and the feeding. And after I light Chanukah candles and I sit and notice, I get a rare glimpse of my home’s soul.
I see this family.
And the holiness that surrounds us not only today, when I notice it…
But every day…even when I don’t.