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Many times in our lives when something happens, we perceive it as being negative, and because of that, become sad. We may get depressed when we can’t make sense of something that is happening. But the kabbalists teach that if you had what we call the “view of the Light of the Creator,” if you could see a wider view of your life and lifetimes, and your beginning and your end, then you would not have any pain about that moment.
There is a famous story from Rav Shalom Sharabi, who was a great kabbalist a few hundred years ago.
A man who was going through some pain and trouble in his life comes to the kabbalist and asks him to explain with his wisdom why he has to experience this pain. But while this man is in the entry room waiting for the kabbalist to come, he falls asleep and has a dream. In this dream, he sees carriages driving by him and sees what he could only assume are angels riding on these carriages. There are signs by the side of the carriages; one says “Charity,” and one says “Sharing,” and there are many white angels on them driving past him.
And then he sees more chariots, this time with darker angels driving by him. They have signs on them too, saying “Anger,” and “Hatred.” The man sees that they are all going towards a square, within which there is a great scale. And all the white angels, which he realizes are his angels, are coming on one side of the scale, while all the dark angels, which came from hatred, anger, and vengeance, start going on the other side of the scale and the scale slowly tips the other way.
Then, in his dream, some more chariots with different types of angels come by, and on the side of their chariots, it says “Pain,” and “Hurt.” The man realizes that these are the moments in his life when he went through pain and darkness. And all the angels created by the pain that he has gone through come and start grabbing the dark angels down off the scale, and the scale slowly tilts higher. But then the carriages stop and are still tilted towards the dark angels, and in his sleep the man screams out, "Give me some more of the pain!”
With that, he wakes up, and the kabbalist is standing there. The kabbalist asks the man, "How can I help you?" To which the man replies, "I have my answer. I do not have any more questions for you."
That is wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to know, understand, or at least feel from our soul why we go through what we go through. When an individual achieves ultimate wisdom, he will not experience any pain, because he will know why it is happening. He will be clear about the process that he is going through, and will come to enjoy it.
Therefore, when a kabbalist tells us that Chanukah and the oil we use on Chanukah is about Chochmah, Wisdom, what they mean is that on Chanukah you can receive the ability to see. The Talmud tells us that if you have a connection to this concealed Light, then you can see everything, from beginning to end. And when you have the ability to see everything from beginning to end, you understand everything. You understand each moment, so you are thankful for each moment… moments others might not accept or might experience as darkness and negativity. That is wisdom.
And so, one of the gifts that is available to us on this New Moon of Tevet, or Capricorn, and during this time of Chanukah, is the gift of wisdom. And that is why, again, we use the oil; because it represents Chochmah, Wisdom. But what wisdom are we asking for? We are asking for the wisdom to know why. To know why we experience what we experience, and whether we understand it consciously or just on the soul level, to have the wisdom to experience life, in all of its machinations, in a positive form.