Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eight first nights

The first night of Chanukah, my roommates and I gathered enthusiastically in the doorway to light our Menorahs. Together, we sang the blessings out loud and lit our eight-winged lamps. Then, with great enthusiasm, we sang "HaNerios Hallulu" and danced.

After our long and involved ceremony, Chanukah was here.

Last night, night number two, I stood with my roommates as we, once again, sang the blessings and lit our Menorahs. Then my roommate started to sing "HaNeiros Hallulu" out loud.

As for me, I naturally launched into the prayer with a mumble.

I looked up at my singing roommate. What? She wants to sing it out loud? Again?

Deep down, somewhere in an ugly part of my subconscious, I had associated singing aloud with the inaugural night, not something that needed to be continued throughout all eight nights. I mean, come on, the first night was exciting! The first night was new! The first night was…well, the first night!

I quickly realized that, with my embarrassing thoughts, I was casting the other seven nights of Chanukah into a boring abyss of purposeless monotony. I needed help, or my entire menorah lighting would be nothing but a blur or un-tapped energy and meaning.

No, Mimi, you are not going to let the eights nights of Chanukah fall prey to your robotics!

Suddenly, I was singing absurdly loud (I apologize to my roommates, but at least I have an explanation!).

Right then and there, I vowed to uproot my scarred attitude to Judaism's often repetitive rituals. While sometimes things may seem repetitive, nothing is extra in G-d’s plans. Eight nights of Chanukah means eight nights of separate opportunities. Every Menorah lighting holds within it a unique power to enlighten and transform.

No individual service to G-d can ever be repetitive, because, by its very definition, it is asked for.

When it comes to doing for G-d, it is always just the beginning. Sure, eating Latkes may get tiresome. But when it comes to lighting the Menorah, all eight days have an inaugural night. So every night, I must sing. Every night, I must dance. I have five nights left, but I will never get to do this again.


Chana said...


Rochel Montreal said...

Beautful post MImi, straight from the heart!
I see you changed the picture from a round menora to a straight one :P
Dunno if that's what your intentions were but its great!

Der Shygetz said...

Very nice. I have the same problem this year - adjusting to a new home, the pressures of a new business situation - and an utter distaste for anything oily - so I feel I, too, am going through the motions this year as far as Chanukah is concerned. (for me a latke or a doughnut might as well be a sponge soaked in "WD-40" and I am proud to say I have not eaten a single one to date but that will probably change tonight for Shabbos!)

It is considered a great segulah for parnosse to light a menorah, especially on the eighth night, near a barrel of kerosene in a heavily insured abandoned warehouse or vacant apartment building. There are some experts who do this type of mivtza Chanukah all year round.

Mimi said...


Indeed, that was my intention. I didn't realize until I got a call from my brother (on behalf of my father, talking in the background)that it's the "wrong" Menorah :). I had forgotten.

The other picture went better..color-wise and all. But, alas, some things are just THAT important :)

Der Shygetz,

You are absolutely insane.

SJ said...

Nice post. Thanks, Mim. :)

Der Shygetz said...

Der Shygetz,

You are absolutely insane.
I guess it comes from not eating any latkes or any passable donuts at all so far this Chanukah - for all I know there is a correlation between underconsumption of greasy fried foods and insanity.

Ashirah said...

i had the same experience! thanks for the important reminder - every day (or night) is new and fresh and has to be treated that way.
happy chanukah!

CM said...


Rochel Montreal said...

I just read the post for the third time and I had to tell you again, I just love it!
And yup, good thing with the Menora, my father would do the same :):)

chava'le m said...

mimi that was a stunning thought. im enormously pleased that you discovered all eight nights and that you shared it.

may you go from strength to strength in all matters of holiness