There are two popular holidays in the Jewish calendar that can be celebrated even as we perform our ordinary weekday activities. Even though they have no special Yom Tov or Shabbos requirements they do much more than just commemorate events in history. Chanukah with its lighting of the menorah with, ideally, olive oil and Purim, in which wine is the drink of choice, have concealed within these days of joy and celebration, like olive oil that is extracted from olives and wine that exudes from grapes, heretofore untapped hidden powers that can aid us to help to rectify and elevate the entire creation.
How is this achieved and why is it necessary? When Adam and Chava ate the forbidden fruit, violating the specific commandment of the Creator, the yetzer hara became internalized causing an admixture within all mankind of tov and rah. Since four of their five senses – of touch (feeling), sight, hearing and taste – acted as accomplices to the primordial sin, we need to now use those very same senses, in the performance of mitzvos and acts and chesed, to rectify this cosmic error which continues to reverberate throughout the generations.
Partially because of a lack of enough sensitivity and an increase in senseless enmity (sinas kinom), that was a major cause of the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, our Sages wisely gave us specific additional mitzvos that focus on strengthening our sense of awareness thereby reawakening our sensitivity in our relationship others. How can this best be achieved?
We can learn how to rekindle the proper feelings between each other, through the teachings of the holiday of Chanukah which call for bending over and lowering ourselves, as the naros are ideally below ten tefakim, so as to be able for the flame of the helper candle, known as the shomus, to touch the Chanukah neros until that are lit up. So too in our relationship with people sometimes it is necessary to bend over in order to share our soul’s “flame” help kindle – ie. inspire – our brethren. The “message” hidden within the Chanukah lights is so enlightening that it even has the ability to remove the surrounding darkness for those who are still out in the shuk – ie. – the marketplace of spiritual obscurity, thereby inspiring them to be included in the mitzvah when they joyously proclaim: (Sheasa nesim la-avosanu ba-yamim ha-haim bizman ha-zeh. that Hashem made miracles for our forefathers in this time.
After Chanukah rekindles our feelings for others and gives us clearer insight on how to be best be of help to them, Purim in its own unique way teaches us not only how to be good listeners, while hearing the reading of the Megilla, but to also learn how to hear – ie. understand – the true needs of others so as to best share our blessings with them. How is this achieved? We accomplish this through the other three mitzvos of the day which are sending gifts – of food that need no preparation – to friends, giving charity generously and opening the “doors” of our homes and hearts for a tasty meal and flavorable experience.
Sending readymade foods to friends perhaps on a deeper level sends a message to all our acquaintances that just as this food needs no preparation, we are always ready and prepared to accept you just as you are.
May we, through these mitzvos, once again regain the proper level of love and respect between all of us, thereby meriting the final Bais HaMigdash soon in our days.