This has been a tough year for many personally, and for the country and world, it has been a collective mess. There was little helpful communication and much pain. People and their ideals were at each other’s throats. The earth has been under siege for many years, but this year we have seen the last straw begin to tear. I don’t think I know anyone who is not eager for this year to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Chanukah ushers in my favorite season of Jewish holidays: Chanukah, Tu B’Shevat and Purim. These are about light, growth, process and reaching beyond ourselves and facing the shadows and what holds us back. These are also about nature in a more direct way, and the deep mythos of the human spirit. We can swim in the primordial sea, so to speak. We can travel between realms. These are less about concrete history and more about attributes of the soul and of the community and earth as a whole. The historical significance of Chanukah is not lost on me, but it is not front and center.
And yes, all of the holidays reach deep within but for me the resonance of this part of the year is a little deeper for that; not that I don’t love each spoke of our holy wheel, though. I have certainly gone on about them all.
So why do I light two menorahs with one menorah adding candles each night and the other way reducing them? While I have discussed this in a past article, that also has other morsels about the holiday, (https://insighthealingdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/the-hebrew-month-of-kislev/), here is an additional insight, and I think for what we are faced with globally, a helpful practice.
Chanukah is in the Hebrew months of Kislev-the first 6 nights-and Tevet-the last 2 nights. Each month was created by a Hebrew letter. The letter Samech created Kislev and the letter Ayin created Tevet.
Kislev – Samech Tevet – Ayin
Samech reflects the concept of ‘Ain Soph’: the endless infinity that surrounds and sustains us. Like the circle that the Samech resembles, we are supported by the ever present and ever moving infinite reach of spirit and time. It can charm you with its welcoming moonbeam smile, but it also lets you know that you are part of it as well. Just like the Samech is a letter that is without end, we are also without end, as is our continuing human story. The letter means to support. This circle of support is there for us.
Ayin reflects the concept of ‘nothingness’. In Hebrew,’ Yesh M’ayin’ (in Latin-ex nihlio), translates to ‘something from nothing’. It is this absence that is necessary for the infinite to fill. It is non-being that waits for its creation. How can a no thing be a container that holds the thing of creation? How can light come from a cold candle wick. It becomes its potential by a flick of a spark that is within the head of a match. This is the act of creation from seemingly nothing. The letter Ayin means eye. We can see from nothingness if we have the spiritual eyes to see potential.
When we can see with the eyes that the Ayin offers us, our eyes, we can see into the void and to the other side. We can see the Samech and garner its support.
From nothingness to somethingness, from expansion to contraction; lighting candles that grow and diminish each night creates an energy flow in both directions. For those who experience this energy as a palpable force, I invite you to use this to radiate forward. This is the richest metaphor that I can think of for where we are at this moment. These movements are the breathing of the universe, the breaths that we each take, the words that we each say, that can bestow love and understanding or hurt and anger.
This is what we need to do now. As we move toward a time when taking communal action to repair what has been broken must be a priority we need to be committed, to be brave and to be aware of what fires we light and how to reach without and within.
Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for repair the world. May we all be blessed to do just that.