Thoughts in Chanukah
Published in the Newsletter of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh
Tonight we will light the first candle of Chanukah 5770, continuing two integrated traditions, one hundreds of years old of the Jewish people in all its Diasporas and the one aged tens of years of the Jewish people who returned to its country. It is possible that one of things that differentiate between those same integrated traditions is that in the first we wer mainly waiting for the miracle which would occur and bring about redemption, and the second we are asking to create the miracle.
As is necessitated by the concept engraved in tradition we return to each year anew, not only so that it shall not be forgotten but rather also in order that we examine its validity. How much does it express us correctly at this time too. Therefore it is no surprise that the tension between the miracle and the act arise every year on the agenda.
Our festival of Chanukah, as it is abundant in symbols of the war between good and evil, and as it is influenced by ceremonies with the magic of flickering lights and sparks of fire, we could be found in a situation in which its contents are pushed into the shadows due to the dazzling of the lights. The light with the abundance of the old methods and the modern sophistication to play with, does not release us from engaging in the contents, but rather brings them closer, makes them “more user friendly”. The games of the lights are a wonderful means of arousing us but they do not “come instead” of the values and the contents.
If I return to the contents that I recalled in this place in previous years (such as personal and group heroism, freedom and slavery, uniqueness and assimilation, act and miracles, light and dark, leadership) this is to demonstrate to you not only as a lesson that has passed but rather the principal of the future objectives. During the festival we recall with the miracle things that have happened in the past, however while looking to the present and the future. In Chanukah there is also a recurring motif: “in those days and in this time”.
Let’s start with the closest circle (and then we will continue later with additional circles). We will examine what is unique for us and what is “Helenization” (if we are even looking for uniqueness). How far are we ready to invest and make efforts and how much are we waiting for some sort of miracle to happen? Are we becoming enslaved in various forms and are we asking to be released from those same enslavements and what are we prepared to do in order to expel the dark?
“You are the Maccabee” said Tzchernihovsky and Bialik adds “Please open the layers of the many lights! The sons of the Maccabees” – they are telling us in their poetic way that we need to be contemporary Maccabees and not only live in the past, when we sing to remember and honour them by holding torch processions.