04 December, 2010

"Chanukkah Song"

The very appropriate Chanukkah song (thank you Adam Sandler for this modern day classic) has been on my mind. 

Applying the ability to look past the פשוט (simple) and finding understanding in the עמק (depth). Learning what might appear to be only facts to develop theories or rather overlay the new facts with historical/childhood myths. Finding how to garner appreciation in light of facts.
Jerusalem is celebrating חנוכה (Chanukkah/Hanukkah/Hanukah/etc--see variants here). Streetlamps are decorated with large lit-up hanukkiot (it's not a menorah which is only found in The Temple), similar to the way streetlamps in the States are with Christmas trees and the like. Walking through neighborhoods, peering inside the houses at the glowing lights, a magical air has emerged in this city. There is a renewed vitality, a feeling of victory.

Like the dreidel has many sides, so too does the story of  חנוכה. The miracle, נס, of the oil lasting for eight days demonstrates an interested, invested, and intimate G-d. A G-d that is on the side of the Jews. גדול, great, can be interpreted as the might it took to defeat the Romans; that after fighting and fighting, the Jews finally won a great battle; a victory of great magnitude. היה, it happened. These things, these wars, keep happening, and so do the Jews. Here we are nearly 2000yrs later, still acknowledging that it happened. The times in our history are not to be forgotten. פה, here, this piece of dirt, this land. In this land. Not in some distant place, not in some place that has been forgotten, but here.

Are there other ways of reading the dreidel? The way of the game has four sides corresponding to four different options for the turn: forfeit the turn, ante into the pot, take half the pot, take the whole pot. I can't help but see parallels to these in other places in life. Each morning we make the decision how engaged we are going to be: not at all, a drain on others, a little, fully. There are four seasons of sun: fall (forfeit), winter (ante up), spring (half pot), and summer (full pot). We are born (ante), we grow up (half), we are adults (full), we die (forfeit).

I am finding this time of Chanukkah a time of light, a time of reflection. Each night more candles are to the hanukkiot around the city and in the home and the brightness is clearly noticeable. Not just because of the candles either.
 חג חנוכה שמח
Happy Chanukkah

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