Communal and Private (Re)dedication

Rabbi Aviva Richman

One of the meanings of Hanukkah is “dedication” as the holiday commemorates hanukkat ha-bayit—the Hasmonean rededication of the Jewish people’s central “Home,” the Temple.

In this vein, every day of Hanukkah we close Shaharit with the words of Psalm 30: "A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David." On the one hand, this seems like a perfect fit - hanukkat ha-Bayit for the holiday of Hanukkah.  Yet, the psalm is a bit of an enigma.  It makes no mention of the Temple, and instead is a psalm about personal distress and healing.  

This enigma points us to probe the meaning of hanukkat ha-bayit in our observance of Hanukkah as well.   How does hanukkat ha-bayit—the rededication of the Temple—take on meaning without the central bayit that was the Temple?  What does it mean to “dedicate the Home” on Hanukkah now?  What is this “home”?