Wednesday, December 17, 2008


As lights play a pivotal role in Chanukah, so do letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Like numbers, letters contain rich spiritual meaning in all aspects of Jewish celebration and study. Hebrew words for items of Chanukah can be arranged in various ways to suggest significant symbolic associations. Like arranging flowers in a bouquet, tradition has encouraged imaginative configurations of letters in its conviction that the Hebrew language is a sacred tongue that reflects unlimited possibilities enfolded in its letters and words.
The word for the holiday-Chanukah - is constituted by two separate words-“Chanu” and “Kah,” each translated as the following-“They rested or camped”, Chanu, (on the) 25th, Kah, Kaf= 20 while h(ey)=5. Chanukah occurs on the 25th of the month of Kislev.
I would interpret the first word –“Chanu” a little differently; it is related to another Hebrew word-“Chen,” grace or favor. Thus Chanukah could be understood as the occasion of special grace, benevolence or love.
Returning to the notion of the miraculous on Chanukah, I would suggest that a perception of life that regards everything from the perspective of grace and love is a way of discovering the miracle in all of life. Feeling the grace, the gift of life, is being blessed with a sense of being given to with special favor and concern.
We all desire recognition, favor and being loved. The child by the parent, the wife by the husband, the employee by the employer, the actor by the audience. Chanukah’s miracle is the message that the ancient struggle for freedom is a gift bequeathed to all generations as an undying expression of the capacity of humanity and God to grace the world with compassion and love.
Happy Chanukah

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