Granted the oil is a big deal in the Chanukah story, but do we really need all the extra calories?! And there is more to the story than oil. In fact the word Chanukah is a combination of two Hebrew words, Chanu – Ch which means they rested (chanu) on the 25th Chaf Hay. This was the day that they rested from the battle with the might Greek Syrian army after declaring victory. Now that was a miracle! 5000 vs. 60,000?!
Add in the issue around the carbs and gevald, it’s time for a diet. This year it works out good, since January 1 is only a few days after Chanukah, you can start your diet fresh.
Chanukah has been accused of being a minor holiday. The fact is that nothing about Jewish holidays are minor. There is always something major to apply in our lives. So what’s with the oil?
Our bodies are like an olive, our souls are like oil. The oil is what is consumed and illuminates. But in order the get the oil out of the olive we need to crush and squeeze the olive.
The squeeze is no fun, the crush doesn’t feel very good, but ah, when the oil comes out and you put your potatoes or dough in it and squeeze a little of that strawberry jelly in and a little powdered sugar on that top, bam, that is delicious.
The Rebbe taught us that once upon a time the Divine plan was for external squeezing. We’ve faced challenges from without throughout the ages. But times are a changin, we are called upon to find the squeeze from within. Recognizing that although we have abundance and for the most part live in a safe and embracing world, our soul still yearns for connection and divine experiencing.
We can liberate the soul from the olive by turning the olive into a partner. Harness the body for G-dly things. See the body as part of the mission. Use the tools of our modern world in the service of Hashem and in making the world a more G-dly and goodly place.
This is the new squeeze. To dig inside and let the oil flow through and with the body and light up the world!
So enjoy those latkes, doughnuts and put the squeeze on.
Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, of Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.