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This is Hanukkah

12/14/2023 09:58:35 AM


Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Tonight, as we begin the eighth and final day of Hanukkah our Hanukiyot will be fully illuminated.  Did you know that the last day of Hanukkah has a special name in Hebrew: Zot Hanukkah?  It literally means “this is Hanukkah.” But what is the significance of this name, and in particular, the word, “zot?”

The Torah introduces the laws of Yom Kippur with these words:

And God said to Moses: Speak to your brother Aaron, that he should not come at all times into the Holy within the dividing curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the ark, so that he should not die, for I appear over the ark cover in a cloud. With this [b’zot] shall Aaron enter the Holy: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 16:2-3).

Here we see that the word zot is used in the context of the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies, a service that was performed only once a year on Yom Kippur. The fact that we call the last day of the holiday “Zot Hanukkah” alludes to a deep connection between these two days. I would suggest that today, the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies represents a person entering the deepest recesses of their soul in order to connect most deeply with God. 
As we light our Hanukiyot this evening, I want to encourage you to take a little extra time sitting with the light.  Breathe.  It has been a very difficult few months.  It’s important that we all take some time to pause, reflect, and breathe.  As you look at the light, look into your soul.  What is it that you are searching for?  What light do you need? What is your light that you can share with the world?

Zot Hanukkah.  This is it.  As you take in the fullness of the light tonight, consider reading this blessing written by Ahava Lilith Evershyne:

May this light be a torch for those who are lost and need to find their way out of the darkness.
May this light bring warmth to those who feel the bitterness of the cold on their bodies, in their hearts, within their souls.
May this light brighten the spirits of those who are sorrowful illumining the path to hope and joy.
May this light kindle the creativity of artists of all kinds who need inspiration.
May this light bring clarity to places of confusion and reveal the truths that need to be known.
May this light fuel the passions of those who wish to act to change their lives for the better or change the world to improve it for all.
May this light illuminate the places of brokenness that need to be healed in ourselves, others, and the world, and be a beacon on the journey to wholeness.
May this light shine peace upon those in conflict all over the planet, replacing ignorance, fear, and hatred with understanding, courage, and Love.

Wishing you and your loved ones a meaningful ending to the holiday filled with soul-searching, healing, warmth, and radiant light.

Hanukkah Sameah and Shabbat Shalom.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784