Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Chanukah

In this week’s D’var Torah, the Chief Rabbi teaches that we learn from the festival of Chanukah that dedication and education must go hand in hand.

Dedication and education must go hand in hand.

The words chanukah meaning dedication and chinuch meaning education come from the same Hebrew root and this makes so much sense. In order for education to be impactful and successful it must be accompanied by the dedication of a community to create and sustain educational institutions: the dedication of members of their staff, the dedication of students. At the same time, dedication needs to be accompanied by education. I am always so inspired by people who are passionate about a particular cause, people who are willing to raise their heads above the parapet to fight their corner for the sake of valued principles.

I am always so inspired by people who are passionate about a particular cause, people who are willing to raise their heads above the parapet to fight their corner for the sake of valued principles.

However, if they are misinformed, if they haven’t been educated properly, it is quite possible that all of that passion, all of that enthusiasm and dedication, could be a waste of time – or make the situation worse.

With regard to the festival of Chanukah I believe we should seriously contemplate on the connection between Chanukah and chinuch.

When recalling all that transpired ‘bayamim hahem bazman hazehin those days at this time’ – we recognize, first and foremost, the hand of Hashem and that is why we kindle the lights of the chanukiah, to recall how Hashem miraculously intervened to save our people. That is something that the Maccabim realized: their name Maccabi is taken from the verse ‘mi kamocha ba’elim Hashemwho is like you amongst the powers Hashem.’

We also recognise the bravery and the dedication shown by the Jewish fighters.

We also recognise the bravery and the dedication shown by the Jewish fighters. That was informed by education, it is only because they were aware of their tradition and they were knowledgeable about the values of their faith that they were able to say this was something to fight for – this was something to live for.

The Greeks tried to extinguish the flame of Jewish life through their efforts to force us to assimilate into the predominant Hellenist culture of that time and as we have always known, the greatest weapon against assimilation is education.

The greatest weapon against assimilation is education.

Therefore at Chanukah time, let us be acutely aware of the crucial importance of Jewish education. Chanukah and chinuch must always go hand in hand. No wonder that our sages taught ‘talmud torah k’neged kulam’ – the study of Torah, Jewish education, must always be our top priority.

Shabbat shalom and Chanukah Sameach.

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