So many things to ponder… so many miracles to observe and embrace. It seems only fitting to write about that, as Chanukah starts on Sunday night.
Second, it is now over a year since my true journey has begun… and I am still going strong… searching and striving and struggling. It’s miraculous and life affirming… and that was a lot of S’s!
Third, there is the miracle of figuring out how to SPELL Chanukah… A “Ch” or “H”… Two “n’s” or not…
You can see which way I am taking it, but hmmm…
So let me be the first to say… Happy Chanukah!
(And yes, let me say this exact one (Avi Nadav Art)… in purple… is on my Chanukah Wish List… If you flip it over, it becomes a Shabbat candle holder!!! Okay, the first one (Yair Emanuel) is on my list, too!)
And now… with no further commercial interruptions…
I know I focus on certain themes, and in an attempt to not be redundant, I had to go back and actually make sure I had not covered this already…
Well… I have. More than once. But it’s one that is hard not to… and may, in fact, be one of the centerpieces of this whole blog.
My very first post was inspired by Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld and talked about the miracle of Passover… and how we should not pass over the daily miracles in our lives.
This is something I am still trying to remember and make a habit and have happen in my daily life. It is all too easy to get caught up in a day… in its chaos and craziness… and forget to smell the roses… or the latkes… or the trees and breeze… to feel things… to touch things… and to let things in and affect us.
Most of us pray every day… and the observant pray at least three times a day… more if you consider the blessings over food and the Bedtime Shema.
At this point, if I can wrap Tefillin every morning, or at the very least say the Modeh Ani and Shema, I feel connected…
And when I miss it… or run out of time… or allow myself to be distracted, I feel lost… I feel that connection to Hashem is a bit gone, and it now physically affects me… mentally affects me.
What a powerful thing it is, to be able to connect to and have a conversation with Hashem on a daily basis… and multiple times at that.
I have just begun studying the Tanya with Rabbi Avi Rabin… and one of the most profound things we discussed, was how a prayer over something… like food or sustenance… elevates that from a neutral thing to something truly holy.
Words… prayers… something we do every day can elevate our lives and imbue them and fill them with holiness. Wow!
One of the very first classes we had with Shlomo after our return from Israel was about Chanukah. And he asked a simple but powerful question:
If they had enough oil for one night, and it lasted for eight, what was the miracle?
Most of us clung to the eight nights… Shouted that out… We celebrate for eight nights, we yelled!
He looked at me, specifically… pointedly, and was surprised that I did not get the answer… Well I have not forgotten it since!
The first night was not a miracle at all… It was what was supposed to happen… The next SEVEN nights were where the miracle was.
What does that mean?
It means that we must celebrate ALL of life… just as we celebrate ALL EIGHT NIGHTS! We must call out the things that are supposed to happen just as much as we are those things that are considered miraculous. And yet… so much of everyday life is a miracle… we have so much to be thankful for… so much to appreciate. Like family and friends… and this old school, electric menorah reminds me of my family and growing up!
In our daily prayers and meditations, that is spelled out for us… And where it is not, our Rabbis… like Shlomo and Avi and Rabbi Denbo tell us to literally make a list and recite it and keep it in our minds as we pray.
In the Amidah, it is specifically spelled out:
“We gratefully thank You… for Your miracles that are with us every day; and for Your wonders and favors in every season – evening, morning and afternoon.”
So as we light our Menorah
Watch the flames flicker and glow
Let us look for that light
Wherever we go
There are candles in the sky
Illumination in the trees
But we must open our eyes
Then we truly can see
Our every day miracles
Call them out, let them shine
And our souls will burn brightly
Fill our hearts and our minds
Celebrate life with one breath
One thought at a time
For with just one step forward
Great mountains we climb