By Rabbi David Shasho
The Gemara in Shabbat (21b) says the Mitzvah of Chanukah is to light a candle for a person and his household and the “Mehadrin,” someone who is more meticulous, lights a candle for each person in his family. One who is at an even higher level is the “Mehadrin Min Hamihadrin,” who lights adding a candle for each night. We see three levels of beautifying this mitzvah. Why with this mitzvah specifically did the rabbis give more options to be more meticulous and make the mitzvah more special, something we don’t find by any other mitzvah?
The Midrash says the Yom Tov of Chanukah is a reminder of the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdosh and we light it to remind us of the miracle that happened with it. It says three times in the Torah to be careful in the mitzvah of lighting the menorah, how to light it, and what to light it with. This is why we have three levels of beautifying the mitzvah, in the same way it applied to the menorah in the Bet Hamikdosh. We also find that when they rededicated the menorah, it took time to get money for a new one. First they made it out of copper, then silver, and finally gold – three levels of dedication.
When Hashem appeased Aharon HaKohen at the time of the Chanukat Hamishkan (Inauguration of the Tabernacle) with the lighting of the Menorah because he didn’t get to bring a sacrifice to Hashem as the other Shevatim had done, the Rambam explains that this alludes to the Chanukah lighting which takes place even without the Bet Hamikdash.
Our Rabbis tell us that the Chanukah light emanates from the inner soul of a Jew and therefore is not limited to a specific time and place. Perhaps this is because the sefarim teach us that the Menorah and the Chanukah candles emanate from the Torah Shebe’al Peh, the oral tradition, which is within the Jewish soul. This is the light which is our source of life in our bitter exile and will bring us to enjoy the light of Mashiach Amen.