Zot Chanukah, which literally means “this is Chanukah,” is the traditional name given to the last and concluding day of the holiday. On this day, we light eight lights and thus complete the thirty-six candles lit during the eight days of Chanukah (1 + 2 +3… +8 = 36). It is on this day that the power and potential of Chanukah is fully revealed.
The Torah introduces the laws of Yom Kippur with these words:
“And God said to Moses: Speak to your brother Aaron, that he should not come at all times into the Holy within the dividing curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the ark, so that he should not die, for I appear over the ark cover in a cloud. With this [b’zot] shall Aaron enter the Holy: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 16:2-3).
Here we see that the word zot is used in the context of the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies, a service that is performed only once a year on Yom Kippur. The fact that we call the last day of the holiday “Zot Chanukah” alludes to a deep connection between these two days. The High Priest entering the Holy of Holies represents a person entering the deepest recesses of their soul in order to access his or her most inner Divine potential.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach teaches that although every Jew may not be holy — meaning, thinking, speaking and acting in a holy manner—nonetheless every Jew in their very essence is the Holiest of Holies; as the soul at its root is totally pure and holy, unsullied by the pitfalls and missteps of this world.
Zot Chanukah represents a unique opportunity for one to symbolically enter into the Holy of Holies and reconnect to that primal point of the soul’s innate and essential holiness that is not impacted by one’s behaviors or circumstances, no matter how base. Although this possibility exists in potential at all times, Chanukah, and especially Zot Chanukah, is an especially auspicious occasion for this sort of meditation. Let the lights lead you into the inner chambers of your soul and like the High Priest on Yom Kippur emerge completely renewed.