(AJNews) – This year, as we gather to celebrate the Festival of Lights, we find ourselves standing at the intersection of history, faith, and the many challenges that continue to confront us as a people. For us Jews of this modern era, grappling and struggling with the challenges of living and thriving in this word, Hanukkah has in many ways served as a guiding star illuminating our path toward hope, resilience, and freedom. Yet, beyond the flickering flames and the warm glow of family and community, lies a profound wisdom that speaks to the essence of our faith and our connection with Divinity itself.
In our mystical tradition, the Hanukkah lights are seen as a metaphor for the Aur Ein Sof, the infinite divine light that pervades the whole universe, and is the source and energy that sustains and permeates every aspect of existence. Each candle we kindle represents a step in our journey toward understanding and connecting with that infinite light of the Divine. It is a reminder that even in times of darkness, we can be bearers of light, agents of hope, and instruments of divine love for all creation. When you kindle your Hanukkah lights, you are not merely commemorating a historical event but tapping into this eternal and boundless wellspring.
Our world, at the moment, seems overwhelmed by challenges and uncertainties. Yet, the Hanukkah lights beckon us to reflect on those miraculous moments in our lives when the divine light has shone brightly, dispelling the shadows of doubt and despair; and to be beacons of compassion, justice, and kindness not just for our people, but still, for the whole world. They challenge us to confront both the darkness within ourselves and within society so that we may bring about a moment of positive change and healing that we all so desperately need.
My beloved community, I deeply pray that by embracing a mystical understanding of Hanukkah we may be guided on a path of both spiritual enlightenment and social responsibility. In the glow of our festival lights, may we be inspired to advocate for the release of those held hostage by oppressive forces, remembering that our commitment to justice and freedom is an integral part of our spiritual journey. May our hearts open to the infinite light of the Divine, allowing it to illuminate both our lives and the lives of those around us. In doing so, may we contribute to the ongoing miracle of Hanukkah, bringing warmth, hope, and healing to a world in need.
Rabbi Cantor Russell Jayne is the spiritual leader and Kol Bo at Beth Tzedec Congregation in Calgary.