The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 670:1) begins to discuss the laws and customs of Chanukah and the lighting of candles. It discusses that there is a custom that women do not do work while the candles are burning. The Mishnah Berurah comments on this by saying this is because the miracle occurred because of or by them. But then the Mishnah Berurah goes on to say that there are places where men also observe this custom to not do work while the candles are burning. The time is said to be about a half hour.
In our world today we are always in such a rush that we do not take moments to appreciate all that we have. We often look for ways to “just get it done,” and do not give a thought to the reason behind what we are doing. Often we have lit our candles (or oil lamps) and just turned away and moved on.
When we turn from the light that we have brought about, we return to a sort of darkness. Think of there being a world of miracles and a world of mundane life. A world where an ancient people reflects on the miracles of their existence and a world where their longevity is taken for granted.
This year let’s all take time to not just light candles and say some prayers, but to be in the moment. Let’s take time to reflect ongat the light in our midst and the light that we are trying to kindle for the world. Let us take time to not just publicize the miracle, but to ultimately live for a moment in a miraculous world. Chanukah is a time to celebrate all that can be by slowing down and recognizing all that is.
Josh Hearshen is the rabbi of Congregation Or VeShalom.