The Secret of Chanukah
Robert O. Miller
“…What do you see?” “I see a branch of an almond tree.” “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” (Jeremiah 1:11-12 )”
1 Keter (Crown) or Keter Elyon (Supreme Crown)
2 Chokmah (Wisdom)
3 Binah (Understanding or Intelligence)
4 Chesed (Mercy or Grace) or Gedullah (Greatness)
5 Geburah (Severity or Power), Din (Judgment) or Pahad (Fear)
6 Tiferet (Beauty) or Rahamim (Mercy)
7 Netsach (Victory or Constancy)
8 Hod (Glory or Majesty)
9 Yesod (Foundation) or Tsedek (Justice)
10 Malkut (Kingdom) or Shekhinah (Divine Immanence)
“For the commandment is a lamp, and the Torah a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Proverbs 6:23)”
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
The Story of Chanukah
Most of us know the story of Chanukah. The Greco-Syrians conquered the Jews with the fixation of destroying the Faith of Yahweh by seeking to force Jews to eliminate the Covenant & Torah. This destruction was symbolized by the defiling of the Temple.
After three years of fighting, the Greco-Syrian forces of Antioch Epimanes (the Mad) were repelled by the priestly family of the HaShemites (Keepers of the Name) under the leadership of YaHudah Maccabee (the Hammer).
The Jews climbed up on the Temple Mount and re-entered the Sanctuary of the Temple to clean the building and to remove the hated Greek symbols and statues.
They set back up the Holy furniture of the Temple but could not find any oil that had not been compromised. Finally they found one small jug of pure unadulterated olive oil still with the High Priest’s seal on it. There was only a single day’s supply of oil in this container.
The HaShemites declared that the 25th of Kislev in 164 BCE would be the date of the rededication of the Holy Temple. Oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night. The menorah was lit with perfect, special, pure super quality extra virgin olive oil. There was only enough oil to burn for one day. The Jews could have opted to sanctify regular oil and use it. They chose to make no compromise to use the perfect oil leaving the outcome to Yahweh. Miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle forever.
Now there is something important about this menorah. The purest olive oil is poured into the seven cups and seven is the mystical number of creation. The wicks are made of fabric from the discarded priestly garments. Garments that are saturated with the residue of the very presence of Yahweh. But oil cannot burn on its own, no matter how pure it is; no amount of heat is sufficient to ignite it.
The wick must draw in the olive oil, but the wick cannot burn on its own. When the wick is infilled with oil, the wick still has to be ignited from the fire that Yahweh has kindled on the Graven Altar, but still the oil burns, not the wick. It is only as the oil diminishes does the wick start to be consumed. And it is the size of the wick that determines how much oil is consumed and so burned and how much light is given.
It follows that because a thick wick consumes oil more quickly than a thin wick, the time of burning can be varied accordingly. So the miracle of the menorah was not one miracle but a series of seven miracles of varying dimensions.
The light from the Chanukah menorah is entirely different to any other light; all other candlelight is a means to an end, whereas the Chanukah menorah is an end in itself.
Other lights may be for honor (as in the synagogue) or the actual use of the light (for example, over Havdalah after Shabbat or in an emergency) but it is forbidden to use the light of the Chanukah menorah for a common purpose. The light of the chanukiyyah is the celebration. We’re just to look at it and ponder the glory of Yahweh.
When you light your personal menorah you are doing so with a unique memory. A miracle occurred when someone like you performed the same mitzvah over 2,000 years ago without compromise, with a full and sincere heart abandoning their will to the total outcome to Yahweh. You are testifying every time you light your personal menorah, and realize it or not you just re- examined your own faith. Do I believe that Yahweh still works in the lives of men today? The flickering light of your menorah resounds with a miraculous yes!
“I would have died, unless I had believed to see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13 )”
So when we look at the Miracles we see there are three aspects of Chanukah. One is the decrees made against us by the infidels, which represented extreme peer pressure that we have to battle all our lives the minute we commit to Yahweh. The second is the self-sacrifice of the Believer to stand for what is right no matter what the opposition – even to the point of death. The third aspect of Chanukah is that there were two kinds of miracles; war and the lights, which symbolizes Spiritual Warfare and Revelation.
Israel could have used less pure oil and they could have used smaller wicks. But, for life to be about relationship, they had to leave everything to Yahweh not trying to manipulate the situation. This blind faith in Yahweh is its own conduit for bringing down the blessings like an antenna on a radio brings down the reception of a broadcast.
The miracles that happened expresses the relationship that transcends limitation. You cannot box Yahweh in. The limitation of that one cruse of oil and a common wick had to give way to Yahweh’s wonder working power. This is why, when we celebrate Chanukah, the Sages made the miracle of the light the main focus of our celebration. Because without revelation there is no winning the war.
If we keep that Sabbaths, love the name of Yahweh and hold fast to the Covenant of a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father, apart from the by- product of living a purposeful happy life, it is possible to achieve the shalom of the Abundant Life. (Isaiah 56:1-8)
The Significance Of The Menorah
The Sages say the seven lamps represent seven types of divine radiance that emits from Yahweh.
“Make a menorah of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flower-like cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the menorah – three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the menorah. And on the menorah there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the menorah, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair – six branches in all. The buds and branches shall be of one piece with the menorah, hammered out of pure gold. Then make its seven lamps and set them upon it so that they light the space in front of it. (Exodus 25:31-37)”
The stress that this passage places on the menorah being constructed from a single piece of pure gold brings home the essential purity and “echad” of our Creator: the menorah arises from and is an expression of pure unity, just as the Tree of Life arises from and is an expression of the Glory of Ayn Sof (Incomprehensible One – Yahweh) and its seven kinds of divine quality .
“Blessed are You, Yahweh Elohim of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Yahweh, is the greatness (Chokmah & Binah), the power (Geburah) and the glory (Hod), the victory (Netsach) and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom (Malkut), O Yahweh, and You are exalted as head (Keter) over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our Elohim, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. (Chronicles 29:10-13)”
Seven symbolizes creation. Elohim created the world in seven days, employing the seven divine attributes (sefirot) to serve as the seven spiritual building blocks of creation. Seven is thus the dominant number in all natural cycles and processes. Hence, the standard operating procedure to bring light to creation is associated with the seven-branched menorah of the Holy Temple.
These seven kinds of divine quality flow downwards, from each lamp, along the seven branches, into the central stem. But when lit the oil is drained from the center stem into the respective arms. The Torah tells us that there was a design of ‘lamps’ on the branches. According to Maimonides’ drawing, these ‘lamps’ are inverted, towards the central branch. The central stem signifies the seventh Sefirah – Malchut – (Kingship) and uniquely King Messiah YahShua for it is the King that personifies the Kingdom, the central conduit of the divine flow which pours revelation into the world, giving it life, light and blessing.
Notice that this menorah was in the form of an almond tree. In the Book, “The Rod of An Almond Tree,” by Peter Minchas, it says, “The account in Genesis 2:10-14 gives specific information regarding four rivers in the Land of Eden… Therefore we should look for four separate rivers which share a common headwater source somewhere within Eden…”
‘A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14)”
“…the missing Pishon and Gihon rivers are not lost at all but are instead currently flowing underground! Moreover there is even evidence that these rivers have been underground or partially underground since the beginning, but shared the same headwater source as the Tigris and Euphrates…”
“…the Gihon Spring, is located beneath Jerusalem as it was in Old Testament times. Moreover, the only Biblical references for the name ‘Gihon’ are in reference to the spring in Jerusalem and the Gihon River in the Garden of Eden.” Where then is the location of this garden?
“The answer is found in…Ezekiel 28:13-14…’You [Lucifer]…were in Eden, the garden of [Yahweh]…You were the anointed Karuv who covers, And I [Yahweh] placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of [Yahweh]…’
“The ‘holy mountain of [Yahweh]’ is a direct reference to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem! Today, Mount Moriah forms the platform for the Temple Mount. [Yahweh] selected Mount Moriah as the site of his Temple… Therefore, the Bible clearly connects Jerusalem to the site of the original Garden of Eden, where [Yahweh] fellowshipped with Adam and Eve. In this regard, it is interesting that according to Jewish legend, Adam was created from the dust of Mount Moriah.”
Ancient Jerusalem was known as Luz – the place of the great almond tree – the Tree of Life.
“At the time of Adam’s expulsion from the Garden, [Yahweh] gave the rod to Adam. From Adam, the rod was passed down through the generations until it came into the possession of Moses. Interestingly, one story claims Moses’ rod as having come from the Tree of Life.”
“Tying these various bits of information together, a link to the story of Luz and its unique almond tree emerges. The conclusion drawn by the authors is that the rod of [Yahweh] was in actuality a branch from the Tree of Life, which was an almond tree!”
“According to [Yahweh]’s command, this perpetually budding almond rod…was to be placed ‘before the testimony’ (Num. 17:10). This meant that it was to be placed in front of the Ark, which contained the ‘testimony,’ that is the tablets of the covenant (Ten Commandments).”
“Yahweh said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” (Numbers 17:10)”
In the Tabernacle and later the Temple inside the Holy of Holies the almond tree of A’aron’s rod stood blossoming. On the other side of the veil in the Holy Place exactly opposite the almond tree is the almond tree menorah symbolizing the Tree of Life. Thus the true symbol for Chanukah is the Tree of Life.
Chanukah, the Festival of Light, begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev. The first three letters spell the Hebrew word “Chanu,” which means “They rested;” for the last two letters, we don’t look at what they spell, but at their numerical equivalent. Kaf is 20; and Hay is 5; their sum is 25. The 25th word of the Torah is “ohr” — light, for, on the first day of creation, Elohim said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” It is no coincidence that Chanukah, begins on the 25th of Kislev, everything is part of the Divine Plan.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Yahweh, and the Word was Yahweh. He was in the beginning with Yahweh. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehendit. (John 1:1-5)” This light was no mere flash of light, this flame was destined to shed purity and light for all generations, under all conditions.
The Midrash explains that the light of the first day allowed Adam to see from one end of the universe to the other. But upon Adam and Eve’s sin Elohim chose to conceal this light, in order to prevent its misuse, and to unveil it in the future, in the Age of the Redemption.
Rav Yochannan ben Zakki (John the Baptist) was heralding the Age of Redemption when he announced, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)” Rebbe YahShua ended all speculation whether this was the Age of Redemption when he announced during the Chanukah season, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12 )” And again, “[Miracles happen] so that the work of Yahweh might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:3-5 )”
Physical light enables us to see our surroundings, the outer shell of everything that exists. King Messiah YahShua, the Spiritual light, enables us to uncover the inner beauty and spirit existing at the core of every one created.
When we kindle the Chanukah lights on the Festival of Light we are lining ourselves up to a stronger light – King Messiah YahShua – the light of the world! Chanukah is then a foretaste of the Messianic Era, when Yahweh will reveal everything to us. The reason we give gifts during this festival is to symbolize the wonderful gifts of revelation Yahweh will give to us in the Messianic Age.
“Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah– not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,says Yahweh. But this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My Torah in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know Yahweh,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34 )”
The essence of our mission in life is to shed light: every time we proclaiming the Kingdom we are lighting a lamp, illuminating a world of ignorance and strife with the wisdom and harmony of the Creator.
Separating In Holiness
There is nothing that demonstrates the separation of holiness like this time of year. We all are feeling the pressure of family and friends to keep the pagan festivals and call it righteousness. But Yahweh said – “I am Yahweh your Elohim: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy…(Leviticus 11:44 )”
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Messiah and Belial? What does a Believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the Temple of Yahweh and idols? For we are the Temple of the living Elohim. As Yahweh has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their Elohim, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)”
Nothing symbolizes the reason for the Christmas season as does the Christmas tree. The Scriptures makes it quite clear that Yahweh was not pleased with such idolatrous celebrations. One such command was found in Jeremiah 10: 1-5, 8,9, “Hear you the word which Yahweh speaks unto you, O house of Israel. Thus says Yahweh. Learn not the way of the heathen and be not dismayed at the signs of the heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain. For one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it [the tree] with silver and with gold. They fasten it [the tree] with nails and with hammers that it move not. They [such trees] are upright as the palm tree, but speak not. the tree [KJV: stock] is a doctrine of vanities. Silver is spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder. Blue and purple is their clothing. They [the trees] are all the work of cunning men.”
With some kind of twisted reasoning, the church authorities tell the laity that all these pagan customs are innocent enough as long as they “put Christ back into Christmas” with their worshipful adoration of the nativity of the Christ-child. But a problem arises How can the church leaders “put Messiah back into Christmas” when he was never in Christmas in the first place?
In the book “The Two Babylons,” page 98, Rev. Alexander Hislop informs us: “At the winter solstice, the sacred tree was cut down in remembrance of Nimrod’s death and decorated, as a king would adorn himself. So, the tree represents Nimrod and decorating it is a symbol of adoring the pagan god with the beauty fit for a king. When the tree died (the needles fell and it was naked), all fires in the village were extinguished, …put out. The worshipers would gather and the Baalmas tree was set on fire. A “holy meal” was cooked upon the flames. Sacred fire from this sacrifice was taken back home to re-fire the hearth, as a reminder of Nimrod’s rebirth (reincarnation) and sovereignty over the home. This is the meaning of the Yule log fire. The pagans would take the residue of the burned tree and carve an idol out of it. Part of this practice is even mentioned in the Scriptures: “He burneth part of the idol in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth his meat, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the elohim-fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a elohim, even a graven image of him: he falleth down before it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Save me; for thou art my elohim. (Isaiah 44:16,17)” So, the next time you hear a preacher say, “Celebrate the Season but don’t forget the reason!” You know the true meaning of Christmas – Nimrod – bah humbug!
“You shall tear down their altars, dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim (Ritual trees) with fire. (Deuteronomy 12:2)”
Scripturally, you cannot mix pagan tradition and the Faith of Yahweh. When Yahweh told Josiah to restore the Temple Josiah told the high priest’s to bring out not only the vessels made for Asherah in addition to those made for Baal and a multitude of other idols but also the Asherah itself from the House of Yahweh. “And he brought out the Asherah from the House of Yahweh, outside Jerusalem, to the torrent of Kidron, and burned it at the torrent of Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder upon the graves of the children of the people. And he broke down the houses of the sodomites, which were in the House of Yahweh, where the women wove tents for the Asherah. (2 Kings 23:6-7)” In the words of the biblical writers, the people of Israel who celebrated her under the boughs of a decorated tree playing the harlot, burning with lust among the trees. Sound like a Christmas Office party.
Idolatry is sin and the wages of sin is death. So in reality the Christmas Tree is an – Ashurah – Tree of Death.
“Elohim saw the light that it is good, and He separated between the light and the darkness. And Elohim called the light day and the darkness He called night; and it was evening and it was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:4-5)”
In the beginning, darkness and light were one single, seamless expression of the Creator. But Elohimwanted contrast and challenge in His world. So He separated between light and darkness, between revealed good and concealed good, challenging us to cultivate the day and sublimate the night.
On the most fundamental level, our task is to harness the light and illuminate the darkness. We strive to preserve and develop all that is good and righteous in our world, and to direct these positive forces to overcome the evil and to transform the negativity of the dark side of creation, the Sitre Ahurah.
[Messiah said] “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’… Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:32-36, 39)”
“For the word of Yahweh is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 )”
Many of you are feeling that separation and it hurts. But it is just as it should be, that is the fellowship of Messiah’s suffering. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death (Philippians 3:10 ).”
“Regarding the crucifixion, certain symbolic meanings and patterns are revealed when viewed from the Hebraic perspective. One such pattern is that of the menorah. As previously mentioned, the menorah, the golden seven-branched candelabrum kept in the Holy Place of the Temple, represented the Tree of Life (chapter 5). And a miraculously budding branch of this tree, called Aaron’s rod, was planted on the Mount of Olives by David and grew into the crucifixion tree (Chapters 6 and 7). In this symbolic parallel, [YahShua] represents the fruit of the Tree of Life…” (“The Rod of the Almond Tree” p. 234)
The symbol of Chanukah – the Menorah – is symbol of the Tree of Life. You have traded Christmas for Chanukah, the Christmas Tree – the Tree of Death – for the Menorah – the Tree of Life.
“I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in his ways (culture & tradition), and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and Yahweh your Elohim will bless you… (Deuteronomy 30:15,16)”
If I were you I would get the largest chanukiyyah and put it in the living room and tell your family the wondrous story of Chanukah that I have reveled to you now! Celebrate the Truth this season.
Let our Heavenly Father resurrect your soul from the depression of pagan celebrations into the revelation of the light of truth. This process was exemplified by the menorah in the Holy Temple: kindled in the light, its rays reached deep into the darkness; kindled in the Holy Place brimming with divine light, it radiates its glow into this mundane everyday world with pure holiness.
“And this Full Messianic Message of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 )”
Originally written by Rabbi Robert O. Miller on Dec. 12 2004
(Robert Owen Miller 1957-2021)
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