Is there a person who does not like this holiday? In my 30 years in Jewish education I am yet to find one! And it makes total sense. It’s a beautiful holiday! You don’t have to go to shul in order to celebrate it (not that there is anything wrong with it)! The food is oily and therefore most of us are attracted to it. It gives us a warm feeling inside (not to mention the inches we develop to protect us against any unforeseen situation when we may need to grab and hold onto someone for dear …yes, it is my sense of humor coming out!). You light candles, and the number of lit candles grows from day to day bringing more light and joy— who would not like that?! You sing songs (and the more, the better in my opinion… Bob can attest!)! It’s a time that brings families together. It’s a time to be proud of who you are.
If you, for a brief moment, can pretend you actually lived during the time we are celebrating, somewhere around 168 BCE.
How do you think your life would be?? A snap shot— you are surrounded by really good looking people exercising and building muscle. They go to theaters, they eat what they want. You, on the other hand, are born to a family that dedicates time to study, to know your heritage, to value your customs, honor your tradition. You can’t do what they do on the Shabbat, and you are not allowed to eat their foods (I am talking about the Hellenists, of course).
Am I painting a picture you can relate to today?
If you lived then, would you want to be like them?
And today, what keeps you wanting to be the proud Jewish person that you are?
I am not a genius and I definitely do not have the crystal ball that can predict the future, but when I look around and observe the Jewish world today, my eyes see more and more people who don’t act as committed to living Jewish life. I purposely say “act” and not “feel” here, because I have no doubt that most of us feel we are committed to Judaism.
Dvekoot דבקות in Hebrew means adherence, as in committed to something and sticking with it. No wonder that the word devek דבק means a glue!
Here are three questions for you to ponder over this Chanukah—
- What do you love about yourself—I place it first because we always start with ourselves. We need to be ok with who we are. So self check — done!
- What do you love about being Jewish? This question widens your circle a bit. To act Jewish and be Jewish can be totally different concepts. To act Jewishly you need friends and community around you. You need to do something outside of yourself, and reach others.
- How do you show your connection, your adherence to Judaism? How do you pass it to the next generation? How are you being a glue, devek, to Judaism?
Think of these three questions in terms of a circle where the first question is in the very center- being your relationship with yourself. The second question as your relationship with others as it requires you to act and engage with others. And the third is the highest level as it represents a complete understanding and adherence to Judaism and requires a connection to the theology of Judaism, which inevitably asks us to consider our relationship with God!
So, go for it! Ponder these questions and enjoy the holiday of lights!
Chag Urim Sameach everyone.
I am looking forward to teaching my eight-week class elucidating the concepts about my upcoming book, Moments of the Heart—what a pleasure it is for me to explore the concepts of the book with others, at Congregation Neveh Shalom starting on January 8th. It will be super-nourishing for your soul!
Attendance at all classes is not required!
And if it’s not the right time for you, I offer you several easy ways to connect with me to find similar nourishment—from my online classes, to my book, to studying with me!