The holiday of lights.
The holiday of oil.
This holiday celebrates our spiritual and physical victory. The Greeks wanted our souls, and we fought back. We refused to give in. We fought.The few won the many. The light dispelled the darkness. We rededicated the Beit Hamikdash. We returned kedusha back into our lives.
It does not take much digging to see that we are in the same predicament. We have been plunged into darkness-quite literally!Shabbat is at 4:11 this week! We are deep deep into our galut. I was walking through Manhattan today and it struck me that along with all the typical holiday decorations- the tinsel, the sparkly lights and all the holly, one can find a menorah and dreidal in every store window as well.
This galut is so well disguised. We are free to do whatever we want. We have religious freedom. We cannot be fired or penalized for observing religious holy days.
Recently, well not so recently. This whole past year.. I have entrenched myself more into the galut then i would have liked. my "no non-jewish music/tv/movies" streak of a couple of years ended. As my roommate says...we are all good BY girls and then we get to PA school and we bum out.
That is not completely true. But it does hold a spark of truth. I am not as careful as i used to be. I feel my spiritual decline. My sensitivities have been dulled. I know that .
But throughout it all, there has been one thing that has kept me centered. Kept my priorities correct. Even if I cannot be where i want to be, i can still remember where it is that i want to be
When i started PA school, i called my Rav and asked a simple sheila..can i study on shabbat? He said no. and that was that. That has been my burning light that has kept the darkness. It has kept me centered. I know that i do not study on shabbat. It is not even a temptation. Shabbat is sacred. It is the holy of holies. It is Hashem's gift to us-His children. It is me'eyn olam haba.
I know that i can get on my soapbox about Shabbat. But truly it is so special.
When I lived at home, i never lit Shabbat candles because my mother does it. Now that im away, i have been lighting almost every week, and it is really an incredible feeling. There is something magical about the way the flame dances. I really feel my neshama being nourished by this incredible force.
Week to week, shabbat strengthens me, grounds me, keeps the light burning inside me. Now we have 8 days straight. I have no mitzva to light. But i light a menorah without a bracha, because, a home with a menorah burning, is an enriched one. We are strengthened. We are nourished.
We are lit.
We can make it through the darkness.