The Wick…writes Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

December 18, 2014 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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One of the many lessons of the Chanukah lights can be derived from a law that the flames must burn through a wick.

This is one of the reasons why gas burners or electric lights are not kosher for Chanukah lights.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Our sages teach that the flame represents Torah study (knowledge) and the wick stands for mitzvot (action). The knowledge of morality and spirituality becomes the shining light that guides and illuminates our existence. But knowledge alone is insufficient-it must translate into action. Theory that fails to change the way we live is empty and meaningless. What we learn must attach itself to something tangible, just like the flame is connected to the wick.

In the Chanukah story, the Syrian-Greeks were great academics. They had great centers of learning with huge libraries filled with literature. But in practice they were entirely different. They lived and promoted hedonistic and immoral lifestyles. They idolized the physical body and pursuit of material pleasure with no higher purpose or value.

This is the lifestyle that they wished to impose on the people of Israel. The Greeks had an appreciation for Torah study and allowed the Jews to pursue its teachings, provided that it remained theoretical.

The Chanukah candles must be a combination of flames and wicks. The victory of Chanukah is expressed in the fact that we don’t just study. We allow our knowledge to change the way we live.

Each day when we kindle another flame we also add a wick. Every little bit of learning will change us for the better.


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