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Reb Lisa's Message

December 6, 2023

What do we want? Light, Miracles, Latkes! When do we want it? ASAP!

During our Havdalah gathering on Zoom this past Saturday night, I mentioned that the new week coming was one that included Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights–which begins tomorrow evening, Thursday, December 7th!

Our Havdalah ritual includes time for us to share reflections from the week and to set an intention for the week ahead. Together, as we ached for a peace that feels elusive right now, we realized everything we longed for was part of the holiday of Hanukkah.

Does it have light? Check ✅

We all want light and illumination right now, to dispel the growing darkness that comes with seasonal changes and that looms with the events unfolding in the world. Hanukkah gives us eight nights of increasing light as we kindle the menorah. We need it.

How about miracles? Check ✅

Hanukkah teaches about the possibility of miracles–unbelievable outcomes at a time when the chances for success or survival are slim. It is precisely when a situation seems utterly impossible, unsolvable, that the potential for a miracle exists. This is the realm we cannot imagine . . . yet. Bring it on.

Is there Honoring, Remembering, Rededication? Check ✅

The Hanukkah story recalls the ancient saga of picking up the broken pieces and restoring the sacred temple that was destroyed. We remember and honor what was lost. And upon being witness to the miracle of an impossible victory, and radiant light that could not be extinguished, we rededicated the holy center of our lives. May it be so.

And . . . standing up for what is right, persevering, protecting a way of life? Check ✅

Yes. The ongoing struggle of the Jewish people to carve out an autonomous place for self-expression, self-determination. The Temple represented a place to experience sacredness and serve the Holy One. It was destroyed, desecrated. The small band of Maccabees stood up against King Antiochus and the Greek army, fighting to protect freedom of expression. An ongoing struggle.

All of the elements of Hanukkah take on a profoundly relevant quality this year. Light. Miracles. Rededication. Fighting against persecution. Inevitably, our Hanukkah experience will be shaped by what’s happening in Israel. As we bring this ancient story into the sobering reality of this present moment, let us pray for the same ancient outcome:

Nes Gadol Hayah Sham.

A Great Miracle Happened There.

Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.

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