1. When getting together during a holiday and festival it is customary to begin by wishing one another gut Yom Tov, and that the festival affect the entire coming year that it be a year of goodness and illumination.

This is especially true when getting together during the days of Chanukah, whose primary commandment is that of illumination and kindling the Chanukah lights, a festival in which each day an additional light is lit. Thus we verily observe that each new light adds an increased degree of illumination, notwithstanding the fact that prior to lighting the new light there already was preexisting illumination.

Surely the above applies to a get-together that takes place when seven lights are lit, the number seven encompassing the entire span of time which is comprised of weeks that are a composite of seven days. (This is also in accord with our recitation in the Sunday prayers, “Today is the first day of the week” — exactly in the same manner as the first day of Creation.) Thus, when all seven lights are kindled, all the days of the year are wholly illuminated.

Especially so, as the illumination of the Chanukah lights is bound up with the performance of commandments ordained in the Torah, which is known as a “Torah of Light,” since it illuminates the Jews’ path in his daily conduct.

When a Jew performs a mitzvah that is stated in the Torah, G‑d reveals Himself to him, as the verse states, “Wherever you will mention My name, I shall come to you and bless you.” Even when this blessing is not readily discernible, the fact remains that G‑d does indeed reveal Himself to him, showering him with all blessings as they are granted from G‑d’s full, open holy and generous hand.

With regard to the days of Chanukah we need not search texts in order to discover the particular blessings of these days, for it is quite obvious that every day of Chanukah brings increased illumination, so that each of the seven days of the week (which encompass seven distinct entities) are illuminated by this light.

Moreover, this light not only illuminates the person’s home, but also shines forth in the streets and thoroughfares, reaching even non-Jews who are found there. For in those places where Jews are able to perform mitzvos with absolute freedom it is customary to light the candles “on the doorway of the house that leads to the street.”

Thus, even non-Jewish passersby see the Chanukah lights and are reminded (and if they are as yet unaware of Chanukah, become interested in learning about it and are told) of the significance of these lights: That G‑d, the Creator and governor of the world — “King of the world” — instructed and especially empowered the Jewish people to illuminate the entire world as G‑d’s emissaries. They therefore kindle the Chanukah lights on the doorway that leads to the street, in order to bring light to the nations of the world as well.

This is readily observed in this country: Although members of the government are both Jewish and non-Jewish and the President is a non-Jew, nevertheless, it is clearly stated on all United States currency, not in a manner of an edict and command, but rather as a given, that all citizens of the country believe — and not only believe, but also trust — in G‑d.

This is particularly germane when the get-together involves Jews who were blessed by G‑d with longevity — surely, each added day is not merely yet another day, but is a day that is replete with illumination and joy. For having already lived these many years their intellect and Torah wisdom has increased accordingly — they have become keener and more pious.

Thus they are even more fit to receive all of G‑d’s blessings to an even greater degree than in previous years, that they be blessed with long, happy and healthy years, with much nachas from all their progeny, enjoying this nachas in good spiritual and material health. This is accomplished by utilizing each additional day for Torah study — especially learning seasonal subjects, such as the laws of Chanukah, for this entails — as we have just said in the text of V’Al HaNissim during Minchah — “giving thanks and praise to G‑d’s great name.”

The kindling of the seventh Chanukah light then brings about the additional eighth light that is kindled on the morrow — this year falling on erev Shabbos Kodesh, for which reason the lights are to burn an additional amount of time, causing their illumination to glow within Shabbos. This, in turn, increases the illumination of the Shabbos lights — the mitzvah that is unique to Jewish women and daughters.

In this manner all of you train your offspring to light the Shabbos candles and teach them that Shabbos is a sacred day, a day that transmits holiness and purity even within the everyday life of the Jew.

Especially so this year, Taf Shin Nun, whose acronym is “May it be a year of miracles,” and whose “head” of the year, Rosh Hashanah, (which encompasses all the days of the year,) fell on Shabbos, and so too, the first (and final) day of Chanukah also falls on Shabbos. Surely, then, this adds an additional measure of holiness to the lives of each and every Jew, so much so, that this is readily perceived by all other nations who live in the neighborhood and the like.

For we find that this is the unique characteristic of the Jewish people, that notwithstanding the fact that they are “scattered and dispersed among the nations” and live in the midst of many nations, nevertheless, “their laws differ from all other nations,” and it is clear for all to see that they are a unique nation, with singular mitzvos that were commanded them by G‑d, the Creator of heaven and earth, as the verse states, “In the beginning, G‑d created heaven and earth.”

This is also clearly discernable in this benevolent country as well, a country — as mentioned earlier — that makes it possible to perform Torah and mitzvos in absolute freedom, and moreover, offers assistance in this regard:

For example, the laws of the land not only enable the person not to have to work — G‑d forbid — on Shabbos, but also offer the person assistance, so that the individual need not have money subtracted from his salary for not working on Shabbos. In addition, not only does the person not suffer a financial loss for not working on Shabbos, his refusal to work on Shabbos causes him to be held in even greater regard and esteem.

May it be G‑d’s will, that in the merit of celebrating Chanukah either at home or in shul, we immediately merit the dedication of the third Bais HaMikdash, “the Sanctuary, which Your hands, O L‑rd, have established,” which will be an eternal edifice, not being subject to any form of destruction, Heaven forefend.

This is so notwithstanding the fact that there were so many events in the previous generation that were not in a revealed state of good, and lately as well — especially in the last few weeks and days — upheavals are occurring in countries that number hundreds of millions of people, countries that for many years were led by governments that ruled with an iron fist and now are being overturned in a manner that is not a revealed state of good.

Nevertheless, the Jewish nation, which numbers sixteen or seventeen million people — may G‑d increase their number as the multitude of stars in heaven — have G‑d’s pledge that He is their King and thus provides all their needs, [including] that this [third] Bais HaMikdash will be an eternal edifice, lasting forever.

This, too, is the content of the day’s lesson in Rambam, wherein we study the “Order of Prayers throughout the Year,” [something that is germane to all Jews, since most women as well are accustomed to pray at least one of the three daily prayers (in addition to Grace after Meals and other blessings,) and during Shabbos and Festivals an additional prayer is added]:

The beginning of the day’s lesson speaks of the “Text of the Prayer Blessings and their Order,” the first blessing of which is, “Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d and G‑d of our fathers, G‑d of Avraham, G‑d of Yitzchok, and G‑d of Yaakov,” i.e., that G‑d is King and L‑rd of each and every Jew, and thus is concerned about and provides for all the Jews’ needs — this being the content of all eighteen benedictions, which encompass all of man’s needs.

The daily lesson concludes with, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, L‑rd, my Strength and my Redeemer,” and “He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us....”

This means to say that when a Jew prays to and supplicates G‑d, he is sure that the words of his mouth will be graciously received by Him, especially since G‑d is benevolent, compassionate and gracious, and His love for every Jew is — as the Baal Shem Tov’s famous statement — similar to the love of elderly parents to their only child who was born to them in their old age.

And G‑d, the maker of peace, provides peace in every Jewish family, first and foremost, providing the true state of peace within each individual, viz., that the person possesses a healthy and complete soul that is not intimidated by the weakness of the flesh. Moreover, the body as well is also healthy and complete, thus making it possible for body and soul to dwell together in greater peace and harmony, for many long years, until the age of 120, and even longer.

In accordance with the custom of distributing Chanukah gelt on Chanukah — something that also makes possible the mitzvah of tzedakah from this money — we will conclude with distributing money and making emissaries for tzedakah, something that hastens the redemption, so that it occurs immediately.