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The beautiful song, Maoz Tzur, that we sing each Hanukka night after lighting the candles, has many beautiful insights. As it goes through the ages, the dark periods of time, that G-d saved the Jews from their oppressors, it refers to the Jews of the times of Hannuka, as Shoshanim, roses. ומנותר קנקנים נעשה נס לשושנים. And from the remainder of the jugs of oil, a miracle was done for the Shoshanim, for the Jews.

Why are the Jews referred to on Hanukkah as Shoshanim?

In regards to the Purim miracle, by the piyyut read after the Megillah reading as well, we find that the Jews are called Shoshanim, roses, שושנת יעקב צהלה ושמחה . What is the connection to roses?

King David sings a psalm about all those who do Teshuva, and calls them Shoshanim, roses, לַמְנַצֵּ֣חַ עַל־שֹׁ֭שַׁנִּים לִבְנֵי־קֹ֑רַח. (Psalm 45)  In the Yalkut Shimoni, 671, it states, “ Anyone who does Teshuva from a sin, G-d will add him a beloved name, as we see that that sons of Korah who did Teshuva, were called Shoshanim.  Roses.”

The Shem Mishmuel (Purim תרע”ג) writes that the word שושנה  is from the word שינוי, change. Change is so rose like, because roses are so soft, and so easy to bend. Shir Hashirim tells us, that the Jewish people are considered amongst the nations as a thorn amongst the roses, כשושנה בין החוחים. Why? Because we have the rose like ability to bend, the power to start again, to forgive each other, to accept G-d’s ways even when they don’t make sense to us.

This is why, on Purim and Hannuka, the Jews are called Roses. The passing of the royal signet ring from Achashverosh to Haman caused the Jews to repent more than all the rebuke of the 48 prophets that rebuked them. (Megillah 14a) In the times of the Hashmonaim, the Jews were so afraid of the Greeks, they all did Teshuva! They all began doing Chessed, and studying Torah day and night! (Sheiltot R Achai Gaon)

When a person does Teshuva, he becomes so beloved to G-d, he becomes a Shoshana, a rose. Ever wanted to give G-d a bouquet of flowers?  Its easy! Just try to be a better Jew! And when you do bring Him a bouquet of flowers, He will make you miracles! When one learns more Torah and does more Chessed, G-d forgives all their sins! And that is what the words mean, that G-d made the miracle of Chanuka, He made the miracle of Purim, to those who did Teshuva, to those who did more Chessed, to those who learned more Torah!

The Zohar starts off by saying that the Jews are compared to roses, as mentioned earlier from Shir Hashirim. Why? Because there are two roses, red and white. Red is the Judgement, and White is Mercy. And just like the rose has thirteen pedals, so too, the Jewish people are surrounded by the 13 Attributes of Mercy.

When we bend, G-d bends towards us as well. When we change, He changes the evil decree. The grandfather of the Hida, R’ Avraham Azulai, writes in Hessed LeAvraham, that the Eighth day of Hanukka, is a special time to hurry up the coming of Mashiach. The Passuk says, in the portion we read in the Torah on that day,  זֹ֣את׀ חֲנֻכַּ֣ת הַמִּזְבֵּ֗חַ בְּיוֹם֙ הִמָּשַׁ֣ח אֹת֔וֹ, as the letter המשח  hint to משיח (בן דוד).  The letters of משיח are the first letters to the words of  מדליקין שמונת ימי חנוכה.

There are so many hidden secrets to doing Teshuva in these days of Hannuka. It is found in the first Sefer written after the Talmud, the first Sefer of the Geonim, the Sheiltot, the following. נר חנוכה משמאל ומזוזה מימין ובעל הבית בטלית מצויצת באמצע The Hannuka candle should be on the left when you enter the house, while the Mezuzah on the right, and the household owner, with his Tallit of tzizit, in the middle. (Sheiltot Vayishlach) The question is asked, isn’t the time of lighting Hannukah candles at night time, when one is not obligated to wear Tzizit?!

The answer that is given, is that the person is surrounded by the Mitzvoth that spell Needle, מחט. מ’ – מזוזה. ח’ – חנוכה. ט’- טלית . The Mitzvah of Hannukah, is specifically in the doorway, in the ,פתח, for this Mitzvah is the Entrance to the Mashiach. This is to teach us the secret way to Teshuva, פתחו לי פתח כחודו של מחט ואני אפתח לכם פתח כאולם Open for me an opening the smallest size, the size of a needle hole, and I will open for you, an opening the size of a banquet hall!

There are so many Segulot and Hidurim, in Hannuka, but all the magic of Hanukka does not start from the lighting of the candles, alone, but from the meaning behind it all. Which is gratitude. להודות ולהלל, to thank G-d, and to praise Him.

What does thanking and praising G-d have to do with change? With Mashiach? With all the Segulot?

Every change, for good, begins with a person thinking, of awareness. Awareness of G-d, of Olam Haba, but most of all, of all the good that G-d gives you. The root of all sin, of being stuck in life, of stopping the Mashiach from coming, is not being aware of all the good that G-d has done, is doing, and will continue to do. When you give flowers to someone, he knows they will die, but that does not bother the recipient, because it is the thought of the flowers that will live on forever. Every flower that was given, was because their was a thought behind it. And that thought is eternal. The same is true about change. It is the thought of change, that is more important than the change itself. Because the change was just an outcome of a thought.

This is because change is a three-step process that I call Triple A. Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. We need to become more aware, about the situation. Who is involved, What exactly the problem is, When the problem occurs, Where it occurs, Why it occurs, and How it occurs. Then we need to Accept this new reality, and find what to be thankful for, in this new reality. Only then, when we are in a positive state about the new reality, we can discover what is the best solution to the problem, that we can take Action on, that will finally solve the problem.  What is that small needle hole size change, that will eventually open up massive change, performance and results? The best seller today in self help, is a whole book on finding that needle point size change, a book called Atomic Habits. Change needs to be the smallest thing, the size of an Atom. But in the days of our Rabbis, that was the size of a needle point. There was nothing smaller.

When we go through this process of change, we will be the Shoshanim, the roses that G-d loves most. And the Chanuka candles will burn brighter than ever.


About the author, Yosef

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