In today’s page of the Tanya, the text central to Chabad Chassidus, we read about the importance of both love and fear in the fulfilment of mitzvos. The Alter Rebbe writes,
“When a person transgresses a prohibitive commandment, G-d forbid, he provides the kelipot with additional strength and vitality. Since kelipot and the sitra achra are entities which conceal G-dliness and holiness and are as such despised by G-d, the Jew therefore guards himself against transgressing. He is “ashamed” to transgress and give the kelipot strength and life. Thus, fear of G-d clothes itself in the observance of prohibitive commandments; for one’s fear of G-d enables him to withstand temptation and refrain from transgression.
We now understand clearly how fear and love of G-d are related to the fulfillment of the commandments, and how the middot are the root and life-force in the performance of commandments in both action and speech.”
There are 365 prohibitive mitzvos and 248 positive ones. The negative mitzvos are ‘kept’ out of fear of G-d’s wrath. These are very important mitzvos. They not only serve to please G-d, but they also prevent immorality; they keep society running smoothly. There are also the positive mitzvos. As we read in the Tanya today, these are very special because they mark the loving relationship between a Jew and his Creator. They symbolise love, not fear. Although this relationship is more beautiful, alone it is not enough to foster Torah observance.
But Chanukah is a time of light. A time of joy, of happiness. And this is why Chanukah dones not feature fear. There is no repentance at Chanukah, no fasting. Instead, we spread positivity through the light of the Chanukiah and the giving of gelt. This makes it particularly enjoyable, but alone it is not enough. If every festival were like Chanukah, people would transgress, they would sin without fear for the consequences. This is why we must balance love and fear. But in the meantime, this is not a holiday for seriousness, or a day of fasting. We must live in the moment, and this means spreading light and joy.
A lichtigen Chanukah.