Countdown to Chanukah 16: Vayaged Yaakov
“These candles are holy.” (Haneirot Halalu) At first glance, this seems to contradict the Talmud (Shabbat 22a), which asks: “Do these candles have any holiness? We do not benefit from their light, not because of their sanctity, but because it would be disrespectful of the Mitzvah to use the light of the candles as lighting for our homes.”
The Talmud (Shabbat 23a) rules that one who sees the Chanukah candles burning should recite a blessing of Hoda’ah, gratitude, for their light. Hoda’ah is always an expression of heartfelt gratitude. Thus we see with our eyes and we praise from our hearts.
The combination of eyes and heart are found in the verse: “And do not turn after your eyes and your hearts,,,so that you will be holy.” (Numbers 15:39-40)
When we see the light of the Mitzvah, the Chanukah candles, and we recite a blessing from deep within our hearts, we repair any damage we may have caused our souls, by turning after our eyes and our hearts. We can thus, as the verse says, “Become holy.”
Perhaps this is why we describe the candles as Holy: They are the key to making ourselves holy. (Vayaged Yaakov, 2:8)
Focus on seeing the light of the candles as a Tikkun for sinning with our eyes, and the blessing we recite as the Tikkun of sins in our hearts.