Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. I'm bringing a "guest blogger" from my synagogue's weekly email. It gives a brief explanation of the historical setting for Chanukah and the philosophical reason it remains important. It is a holiday of hope, faith and miracles and discovering light in the darkest times. Often it's seen as a holiday for children, but as I grow older the need for hope, faith and miracles grows, rather than diminishes and I found these thoughts very inspiring.
In the Talmud, Shabbat 21a, the Rabbis teach, "On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev commences the days of Hanukkah—eight days on which lamentations for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil with the seal of the High Priest, but it contained sufficient oil for one day's lighting only. Yet a miracle occurred and they lit the lamp that burned for eight days."
At the darkest time of year, we celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and while the Rabbinic story of Hanukkah teaches the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days, perhaps the greatest miracle of Hanukkah is our ancestors’ desire to have faith in lighting the oil at all, since it was only supposed to last a short while. We know that in times of darkness and despair, it can be difficult to get up the courage and faith to make the effort to see light, to bring light in, to find the spark internally, and to dedicate ourselves to being "lamp-lighters" in the world. We pray that, during this season of rededication and light, we have the faith to dedicate ourselves to bringing light into the world despite its darkness, and faith that if we are willing to make that initial step, the light has the potential to kindle other flames and to vanquish the darkness.
Thanks to Pinterest for this delightful Chanukah gingerbread house, a first for me, and I hope you will enjoy it, too. My thanks for the sweet and thoughtful comments about my dear friend, Diane, and my wishes for hope, faith and miracles to you and your families and to all in need of light and hope.