A light in the dark – jewishpresspinellas

Posted By on December 21, 2019

During the shorter and somewhat chillier days of winter, some of us tend to feel a bit more despondent, less motivated, slower to get around, maybe even a little hungrier. Even in the sunnier hemisphere, we can become susceptible to subtle seasonal mood disorders. Add to the shorter days, a barrage of disturbing current events or general climate of anxiety, and you may really feel out of sorts these days.

Our predicament is not a new one.

The rabbis in the Talmud taught in BT Avodah Zarah 8a:

When the first human being saw that the days were getting shorter and shorter, he said: Oy! Woe is me; maybe because I have sinned the world is getting dark and is going to return to chaos! He got up and spent eight days in fasting and prayer.

When he saw that the winter solstice had arrived, and that the days were getting longer again, he said: This is just the order of the world. He went and celebrated a holiday for eight days.

The first human was clearly ahead of his time with regard to observing Hanukkah, a holiday that would not occur for another few thousand years. However, we can connect his sense of relief and joy with our own winter celebrations.

Hanukkah arrives, like many other cultural winter solstice festivals, at the darkest time of the year. As a remedy to the darkness, we, as Jews, are commanded to shed a little light. When we may feel the least motivated to do so, our tradition challenges us to light a candle in the darkness and allow the light to grow and become more illuminating each night of the eight-day festival.

No matter what the weather outside or in our social climate, our tradition commands us to BE the light and share the light to rise above the fray to break out a new latke recipe, set up the chanukiyya, and CELEBRATE!

This year, our festival coincides with Christmas, allowing us to share our traditions, and mingle our joy with the general cheer of the outside world. May the light of the season remind us to put our faith in God during the tough times, just like the first human, just like the Maccabees. As the Prophet Zachariah said, Not by might and not by power, but by My spirit, said the Lord. (Zecharia 4:6)

May we learn from history that our light is a light unto the nations. Even during the darkest hours, we are commanded to shine our inner light and the light of the Chanukah candles. May the holidays bring joy and warmth, comfort and connection to all.

Chag Urim Sameach!

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the board. The views expressed in the column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.

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A light in the dark - jewishpresspinellas

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