Lights, Action, Chanukah – By Marc

Before I start, I do have to say I recently had a very angry yell at G-d. A dear friend of mine just lost his father, and I am hurt and heartbroken for him. I am angry and sad. I am so frustrated at the state of the world, but also at how we are not able to do the things we were taught are so important to Judaism… to hold one another, to support one another, to bury and to grieve… to sit Shiva and on and on and on. 

It is never a good time to die, but during Covid, it is a horrible time to die, especially for those left behind, and left not being able to do what is both natural and needed. Shiva is needed… It is one of the most brilliant things in Judaism… it teaches us how to mourn… it helps us…  gives us clear steps in the process… and a way to prepare for what lies ahead. Saying goodbye is needed, and yet now we cannot go into a hospital. This sucks. There is no other way to put it. And while I know G-d has a plan, and my faith is unwavering, I am mad… I am pissed and that is why I screamed at G-d… and asked why… WHY???!!!

The flip side of that, of course, is that I screamed at G-d. If I no longer believed, I would have no one to scream at. I would be empty and perhaps more lost to the seeming confusion and random chaos that exists these days.  But here I am yelling at G-d… not doubting that He exists… but expressing my anger and sadness and frustration with all that is going on. Wishing he was here in a more obvious way, stopping this deadly virus, making this country not so hateful and divided and on and on…

And yet, here we are… in the period of light and celebration… and so I continue…

Light Over Darkness
My friend and Rabbi, Avi Rabin at the Chabad of West Hills did a two part class on Chanukah and much of what I am going to write about comes from that class. One of the first things he said was, “Holiness means that I am willing to give in to the idea of Hashem even though I cannot fully grasp it.” Well clearly that is something I need to remember (see above).

He then went on to say that Chanukah was an attack on the Jewish soul by the Greeks… and the Menorah and each, individual candle, represents the soul. So Chanukah and the menorah is the saving of the Jewish soul. The rebirth… the reinvigoration of the soul. The Menorah represents hope and light over darkness… faith over uncertainty. The timing could not be more appropriate. The world… this country is in deep darkness. There is a very real battle going on for our very soul. We need to let Chanukah remind us about the light we all must show… and the light, we all must be.

One More Candle
In Judaism, we are always adding… bringing more light into our own lives and to the lives around us. This is the Menorah… each night we ADD light… ADD a candle. The same goes for human beings… we need to be growing and as we changing and learning and evolving every day. We need to be ADDING to ourselves and our loved ones EVERY DAY. It is not just a mitzvah and commandment, but our very purpose to bring more goodness, kindness, happiness and joy to ourselves and into the world.

And the way we do this is one step… one mitzvah at a time.

Eight Candles Or One Candle On The First Night???
I had no idea that this was even a thing… but there it is. Shammai said we should light the Menorah with all eight candles the first night and then take one away for each night. Hillel said the opposite… that we start with one, then two, then three and on and on. The reason Hillel’s way is the way we do it, is because everything starts with just one step. From one candle eventually comes eight. One candle, one helper, helps light them all! We need to find the miracle in the light of one candle, just as we need to do it within the light of all eight. We MUST find the positive in every single thing.

And so there it is… as we are currently in dark time, we must seek out the Menorah… seek out the candles and the light… and we must ALL be the single, bright and all encompassing light we know we can be. Have faith and light up the world, dear friends.

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