Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gratefulness and Hannukah

It's the last day of Hannukah and all through the house.....oops, sorry for the slip! Seriously though, as Hannukah winds down, I review the last 8 days in the silence of my mind. I kindled the candles, played the dreidel, ate the latkes and gave the gifts- all the concrete activities of the holiday. Beyond the outward celebration, however,my meditations reminded me of the core spiritual dimension of Hannukah and for that matter , of all the Jewish festivals. I repeatedly contemplated the rabbinic rationale of the holiday, captured in the Aramaic phrase-"Pirsumah Nisah"-publicizing the miracle. I would like to offer a re-interpretation of this term.
I would translate these Aramaic words as -revealing the miraculous!!!
Hassidic literature points to the analogy between the lights of Hannukah and the hidden lights of the human soul. The objective of Hanukah therefore, is to elicit the light of one's spirit, bring it to the fore and make it a revealed expression of divinity for others and for oneself.
As the lights are lit, the dark corners of our souls can be illuminated and purified through the traditional Jewish responses of spiritual engagement in Torah and the performance of Mitzvot, of sacred acts of kindness and compassion. As we recognize the miraculous in Jewish life and in life in general, how can we not be cognizant of the great gift of being alive? How can we not be grateful ?
Kindling lights on Hannukah-the one and only religious requirement-( I hate to disappoint those who thought that latkes, presents and dreidels were statutes from Sinai)-is intended to make us aware of the wonder of our history and of our current lives and respond with hearts filled with joyful gratefulness- " This is the day the Lord has created, let us rejoice and be grateful on it."
May we continue to shine the lights of our souls throughout the year until next Hannukah; may it arrive amidst the light of peace for Israel and all the human community.Amen.
Gratefully, The Grateful Rabbi

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