What do the lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
a vision too lofty
He has none,
what He has uttered
will be done
scrambling for motivation
that’s what humans do
is what He will shew
one can always find the light
needed to see the way
to fulfill each daunting task we meet each day
From our readings tonight I was inspired at the notion of even finding the motivation to pursue what seems impossible or just too daunting a task. We read about the lights and oil and miracles. One thing we might overlook is the fact that when the Maccabee’s entered the Temple there was so very much chaos, disorder, filth to clean up. Idols, unclean carcasses, what could be worse? Not to mention the human emotional response attached to seeing the Holy Temple in such disarray. It would have been enough to bring warriors to their knees.
The fact that the Maccabees even had the will and motivation to start the job of cleaning up is really that first step which led to setting the Menorah up and then finding the solitary flask of clean oil is really astounding and in years past I have overlooked it.
Sometimes I look at my house or my kids rooms or my yard….or, my heart, my strained relationships….and think this is TOO MUCH, I CAN’T do it. The honest truth is, that statement is right on. I can’t, we can’t. BUT He can! And if He will’s a cleaner home (your home being a sanctuary), if He wills disciplined children, if He wills restoration in relationships and a clean and holy heart for us….His Will WILL be done.
Another truth: we must possess that desire that aligns with His will and we must find the motivation which comes from Him and then WALK in it. He does require us to move for Him to shew His wonders in our lives. I am watching the children tonight and thinking about all the work that was put into making a clean and warm atmosphere to amplify and solidify the ever present work and manifestation of the Spirit of Yah in our lives and hearts.
I think about the children smiling at the light and focusing on their present task, and I consider too their joy when I asked them to clean up their Chanukiah’s. They gently scraped old wax away, scrubbed, polished and filled the jars or wrapped the candles with motivation. When I wonder about my motivation I need not look much further than the light basking off their cheeks. It’s them. I think that maybe the Maccabee’s had something similar in mind. It was their task to make way for that legacy to continue. They had the job of clean up so that their people could once again come into a cleansed, warm environment productive and proper for the worship of their King.
Thank you HaShem!
Happy Feast of Dedication night one!
What do the lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
its more than a thoughtful choice to be made
more than religion put on display
the life from Your words become a part of me
their light is an adoption into a family
it flows through the veins
sparkles from the eyes
resonates through the voice
and echoes in the soul
From tonight’s readings, the inspirational notion of those who would compromise nothing when it came to God’s Holy Torah and His righteous statutes therein. There are many people I have heard distort this concept: never compromise. Whether it be in sports, glorifying the self and broadening ones own status and stature. Whether it be in religious traditions one can become attached to more than what they are even meant to represent, thus glorifying the glow rather than the substance which inspired it. Whether it be in theology, grasping so tightly to the ideologies we’ve been raised in and refusing to dig a little deeper, challenging and questioning (for the good) what foundations we have actually built upon.
The Maccabee’s and the people who crossed that line in the sand with them, they knew the true meaning of never compromise. They weren’t clinging to man made laws or traditions, they were staying steadfast to the literal point of the sword to God’s Torah and its eternal truths. They dared to believe what the Psalmists and Prophets attested to, the word of the Lord is the tree of life and living water and it was worth not only fighting for but dying to uphold.
They would have known and meditated on words like these which we read this evening:
Turn my heart to Your decrees, and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in Your ways.
Confirm to Your servant Your promise, which is for those who fear You.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good.
See I have longed for Your precepts; in Your righteousness gives me life.
Let Your steadfast love come to my O Lord, Your salvation according to Your promise.
Then I shall offer a response to those who taunt me, for I trust in Your word.
Do not remove from my mouth, the words of the utmost truth, for I have yearned for Your ordinances.
I will keep Your Law continually forever and ever.
This passage from Psalm 119;36-44 is one of the first I taught my daughter nearly 5 years ago. I don’t know if she significantly noted it but tonight as we discussed in short the meaning of the following verses:
I will keep Your Torah continually, forever and ever.
I shall walk at liberty, for I have sought your precepts,
I will also speak of Your decrees before kings…..
She connected the bravery of the people at the time of Channukah, where assimilation was common and encouraged, to that of the Psalmist. No matter what was threatened, what troubles were heaped upon them, they continued to walk in His ways. I thought of Mattathias’ words in connection to the concept of being endowed with the freedom and strength to speak of the goodness of the Torah and its Author and Presenter before kings.
Then Mattathias called out to the city in a loud voice, saying: “Let everyone who has zeal for the Torah and who stands by the covenant follow me!” So he and his sons fled to the mountain, leaving everything they had in the city. At that time many who sought righteousness and justice were going out to settle in the wilderness — they and their sons, their wives and their cattle — because they took the evils [of Hellenization] so hard.
— Septuagint, 1 Maccabees 2:15-16, 27-30
They weren’t being asked to forsake the man made customs of religiosity, the evil king Antiochus forbade the study of Torah, the observance of the Feasts of the Lord, the observance of the Sabbath, circumcision, and eating clean foods only. Think about that.
My daughter and everyone at our table understood tonight, that the path we have chosen is not always the popular one. It’s not always understood by many in our lives. For the future we can see ourselves perhaps being targeted for our beliefs. But THIS WAY and this love of the Torah is not something that is a passing phase, it’s not a thoughtful choice, the magnificent Light of the Torah is so full of life it becomes part of your very soul, because it came straight from Him. You can have all the man made customs and traditions in this wide world, but try and separate my soul from the Heart of my King and I pray I will be given the pride (in Him) and power (in Him) to make the stand for His righteous ways the people did in those days at this time.
I pray that all Israel is met with a year they will be free to observe His wondrous ordinances in freedom and happiness. Tonight this is my prayer:
Keep my steps steady according to Your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.
Thank You my King, for the wondrous things in Your Torah.
Happy Feast of Dedication night 3!
What do the lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
I didn’t imagine what I wanted to see
I looked into your eyes
at the light sparkling
I saw letters, forming words, making memories
and people in times
seemingly far out of reach
as I drank in this moment so brilliant
I marveled at the life within some, so resilient…
from cold, dark, futile fate
they found purpose and hope
and twas light they made
I felt the souls of long ago
in the room, in your eyes…all aglow
From our readings tonight, reflecting on just what the lights of Chanukah have meant to peoples over the years. We read accounts and stories of Chanukah observances in the concentration camps of WWII Europe. The dangerous attempts and feats of faith to strive to light even a single flame for even a short time during this season, after enduring so very much. Why risk beatings, even worse, to kindle a light in remembrance of Chanukah? It was more than just an observance which drove these incredible souls, it was not even allegiance to a commandment….it seems as though it was the realization that that little light would be a spark igniting a long burdened, bruised….in reality- tormented, torn, desecrated sense of self, of humanity, of hope.
When these make shift menorah’s fashioned from spoons, shoes, tins with threads as wicks, shoe polish for oil were painstakingly acquired and hidden and then finally at great risk…revealed and set ablaze….the tiny flame did much more than accomplish something extremely rare in such a dark place….it became a portal into the lives of these people. Looking into that light would transport them back into memories of loved ones lost, perhaps even multiple loved ones…..perhaps even before their very eyes. A tiny flame would represent people and places that they had all but lost connection with, memories of better times….and hope that someday there might be happier times to again enjoy in freedom and full light.
This evening we were so very blessed to be surrounded by friends and loved ones, some new faces, wonderful and beautiful exchange students from all different nations…who perhaps had never even heard of Chanukah before today, they heard the verses of praise, the accounts of miracles and victory, and then lit the lights of remembrance. The smiles, the reverence, the pause in the usual hectic and untouched unmoved pace of life was palpable to me personally. I am astounded by the different way the light bounced off each set of eyes, each pair of cheeks, each curved set of fingers and smooth nails. I tried to drink in every detail….realizing, we can never know when moments like these will be our last.
I do not know what the lights said to each guest tonight, but I hope and I pray that they whispered the things unspoken….that the Most High King of Kings reached out from each flame and light His spark within each one of us. I pray that He whispered to each soul, longing to return to unity with Him, the way to connect to the love and the Hope He holds out to each and every one of us. I can only imagine what the eyes from long ago noted in the lights of Chanukah…..tonight I feel as though we were all part of a strand, long and winding….and strong, so strong and true….connecting the past with the present and making way for the future.
Tonight this is my prayer:
Deal bountifully with Your servant,that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your Law. I am a stranger in the earth;do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times.You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments.Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.
Psalm 119; 17-23
Thank You my King for giving Your people the strength to endure and continue that I may sit here tonight and share this wonderful experience.
Happy Feast of Dedication night 4!
What do the lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
dim only lasts for a while
strength from above moves His people long, hard miles
darkness may reign for a time
but the true light always comes in and conquers with its shine
covers and facade’s are temporary
His truth is eternal, the Torch bearers resilience….blaring
if those in helpless situations
could see the light and remember
the evil in this world will not last forever…..
From our readings tonight, the understanding that the enemy of God’s people was unique….the battle, not for conquest. This foe chose to use the flare and appeal of Greek lifestyle in all aspects to cover and phase out the Jewish ways, the walk set out in the Torah of HaShem. There was success among many Jews and they slid into the Greek mold, garb, facade….for them that is all that it was. At a Jew’s core there is only the spark of God’s light and their destiny to bear it.
Tonight was a very unique occasion. Living in a very small town with only one small Reform “Temple”, and no Synagogue….the truly very abundant Jewish presence here has very little as far as options for worship. There are very few avenues toward the encouragement of Torah learning and living for the Jewish people in this area. This evening was the first candle lighting ceremony this area has seen (as far as I am aware of). As I strode in from taking a trip to my vehicle I was struck by the stark contrast of the florescent green and red strands of lights and wooden santa claus displays amongst the trees of the city park….and this golden, delicately beautiful Chanukiah which had only recently been lit as the sun descended behind the mountains. It was a moment which immediately took me back to my imaginings of the invasion of the Greek culture in the Holy Land and amongst the Jewish people. The warm lights flickering there made me smile inside out, the warm and friendly group which had gathered to share this moment were conversing and sharing sweets and introducing one another like a family. This Chanukiah, these lights commemorating the victory over assimilation had brought us all together for a time, it was truly beautiful.
In a community such as this, in a world which is shaping out to be increasingly anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, it would be easy enough for God’s people, the Torch bearers to sort of slide into the facade of daily grinding and fade off into the obscurity of the common. But this is the very thing the ancestors fought against….the foe who didn’t seek to out right war against Judaism, it was only when it became clear that for some the practice of their Faith was overtly and totally consumed with the notion of God Almighty’s ever present and powerful hand in all things, and their alliance to the practice of this faith being due to a holy fear of the One True and High power of the universe that the world outside began to wage their tyrannous control over the people, striking at Israel and her God and only King.
As hard as it is to live on an island, or… in a desert where it can often feel very barren and lonely, tonight I am reminded that no matter how dark or artificial the world and its lures seem to be, no matter how overt and perhaps even powerful….it gives me much hope to remember that the darkness does have its end. Tonight those flames in the park made me hopeful for a future for this and all communities in the world who are seeking fellowship and communion with HaShem from the heart of service and devotion. Tonight I saw a small but significant flicker in the sea of glare and glitter, it was natural…organic…and real. Lasting.
Tonight this is my praise:
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare;
and in His temple everything says, “Glory!”
The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.
Psalm 29; 7-11
Happy Feast of Dedication Night 5!!
What do the Lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
oh my King
what can I even deem to offer
You have answered everything….
everything I’ve requested You have returned
in answer, in response, in abundance, and my heart burns
and not only that You caused me to recall
one of many moments when You began to change it all
You reached into my soul through a song
I heard it tonight as the oil burned bright and long
the verse spoke of a moment
a turning point
to shine forth the brilliance
we can hear from Your sweet voice
the phrase hinted at an opportunity
that won’t last forever
to grasp what You hold out freely
and loose every tether
to the trappings of the world
and the strings of darkness
that cause us to feel complacent
and forget that this walk to You…is vital and urgent
how can I describe
where Your servant was at the time
when Your voice through that song broke into my mind
I can not,
so I will repeat the praise you’ve made….
thank You for giving me ears to hear
I’m sorry I didn’t act sooner to accomplish sincere
speak again Master, show Me where to turn
teach me the lessons You’d like me to learn
thank You for introducing my to my spark
I’m sorry I took so long, should have kindled from the start…
Thank You for teaching me
there is limited time
and it could be just a moment
time to shine
Tonight’s reflection comes from my heart, I can’t really express what I feel. In truth I’ve devoted a small portion of the pie to Torah study and prayer time. The tasks and expectations seem endless and exponential, that is not a complaint…every bit is a blessing. One of my favorite lines in the movie Fiddler on the Roof is when Teviah is singing in the barn, ‘If I was a rich man….”, he quiets a bit and seems to be imagining what he would be doing with his time…” If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray. And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall. And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.”….and then he closes his eyes, I am certain he’s there…he can even feel it….’That would be the sweetest thing of all.” And then he sighs.
This is the truth for some, for me at this point in my life. God has set tasks out before me which sometimes seem menial, painstaking, even pointless…sometimes I have those moments of mental transport, and I can almost feel the cool bricks of the wall on my forehead as I pray for hours and read and draw near to my King. I was reminded tonight that He has the will and the power to reconnect us to Him in an instant IF “that would be the sweetest thing of all” to us…by Heaven, He swiftly makes the way!
In a simple phrase, a vivid memory, a flash….He transported me to a moment of longing so deep and dear that convicted true change. It was change that is to this day and my last….ongoing, but I remember that moment. He ‘spoke’ to me then and made me feel that spark of light, that Godliness He left there when He made me….and I knew I’d been given the chance to use it to bring some of His light into this world.
Sometimes I feel such an urgency, I feel like I must must must do do do so much much much all at once once once….then He reminds me how patient He has been all this time. And “on the other hand” it is clear…there is an vitality and need in this life, immediate….for a closeness and a devotion which will bless and inspire others and it is our job to share this inspiration with all whom we meet.
But can I really do that while scrubbing my dishes? Taking out the trash? Yes. Even the fact that we’ve been blessed with these responsibilities is a chance to weild the grateful, humble, genuine thankfulness that will….even in a moment and a flash, reconnect us to Him.
I had only so much time when I woke up this morning to accomplish far too many things on my own, I woke up worshiping Him and then begged Him to make it happen for the sake of this Feast, His Sabbath, the light filled environment I wished to promote for my family and He answered. And the light came, and the moment lingers….and every bit of it is magnificent. Here’s to the God Who hears and responds, make vessels for Him to fill and He will certainly not leave you empty.
The vile of oil the priests found at the time of Chanukah is NOT what burned for eight days, they made the effort even though it seemed perhaps pointless….for how could it last? God took their efforts and HE made the light continue. It was not the oil which burned on for seven impossible nights….it was HaShem, showing His approval over all their efforts…. in battle, in devotion, in life, in love. His reminder that they had been connected all along and were still a part of One another.
Isaiah 59;21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth SHALL NOT DEPART from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from NOW AND FOREVER.”
so may it be!!
Shabbat Chanukah Shalom!
Happy Feast of dedication night 6!
What do the lights say to you? Chanukah 2015
didn’t I tell you
I’d saved the best for last
if you held out in patience
you’d see glory manifest
there are wounds to be tended
there are doubts to be assured
there are praises to be attested
there are lessons to be learned
and in the end
its only Your light
the true light from the beginning
still brilliant and bright
when the heavenly hosts no longer shine
Your love will be the kingdom and the temple and the shrine
Reflections from this Feast of Dedication.
What does it mean to be dedicated? And to what or Whom are we truly dedicated? The verb Chanak (meaning to consecrate, make experienced, make submissive, to train or train up) in the Hebrew comes from a masculine noun chek meaning palate, roof of mouth, mouth. Chanukkah a feminine noun means dedication, consecration.
Numbers 7; 10 The leaders offered the dedication (chanukah) offering for the altar when it was anointed, so the leaders offered their offering before the altar.
The very first place in the bible Chanukah is found is in reference to dedicating the Altar, the seat of closeness-forgiveness-return….in the very first Physical actual place where God’s very Glory would rest.
Deuteronomy 20;5 The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated (chanak) it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate (chanak) it.
The very first place chanak is found in the bible is in reference to the entry of the Holy Land of Israel…and battle, if a soldier has heard the following text and STILL FEARS he has leave not to do battle. (remember the men of Yehudah Maccabee and the fierce fighting at Chanukah time….)
Deuteronomy 20;1 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. 2 When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. 3 He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4 for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
Job 6 is the first place in the bible chek is found,
30 “Is there injustice on my tongue? Cannot my palate discern calamities?
….. hear some of this context and think of the Greek assimilation (they worshiped sports, the human body, the human mind, etc… ) fought against during Chanukah…..
10 “But it is still my consolation,
And I rejoice in unsparing pain,
That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 “What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should endure?
12 “Is my strength the strength of stones,
Or is my flesh bronze?
Chanukah commences on the 25th of Kislev, the 25th word of the bible….is Ohr- light!
We light the Chanukiah each night adding and additional candle. Doing the math that is a total of 36 candles from the start of the chag (festival) to the end. The word Ohr (light) appears 36 TIMES in the Torah.
If none of these little incredible tidbits mean anything one thing you may find significant is that Yeshua made it a point to be in the very sight of Chanukah’s events for its celebration at the Feast of Dedication.
John 10; 22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. 24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.
Messiah Yeshua’s incarnation is traditionally celebrated around this time of year. I tend to believe that his incarnation would and should perhaps not be celebrated on the very same day as several other mythological,and pagan false god’s birthdays were celebrated (the false god tammuz;s birthday is literally celebrated on the 25th of this month), but it does follow that if he was ‘conceived’ around this time of the feast of Dedication it would take us to Sukkot (Tabernacles- the perfect imagery of “God made flesh coming to dwell among us.). Just thinking back to the meaning of the Hebrew words Chanukah- chanak- chek…. dedication, the consecration, to make to learn…He made it a point to do his healing, signs, miracles and to BE THERE in Jerusalem on the Sabbath and the Feast days and even these non mandated celebrations of God’s victories in the lives of His people- on their behalf….I come to the end of this Feast evaluating what it is I am truly devoting myself to.
I find myself evaluating what responsibilities I have overlooked, what battles I have been afraid to engage in….. I wonder in what shape have my offerings of prayer and praise come, and how frequently, how genuine? I find myself wondering when I have stood up for my own pride and name instead of allowing Him to do the heavy lifting.
A friend recently told me “the world will turn without you turning it…..” and she was right. All the while, I feel more motivated than ever by the inspiration in these nights to be active,engaged, devoted and attentive in more of this life….while it turns, I dare not remain stagnant.
In an environment where there are lines of increasingly impatient patrons winding around and down aisles of stores (no there wont be anymore ‘pick up something real quick”‘s till January), where there is frustration, flash and then….what? I am very very thankful for the time spent, dedicated at this Feast…..to family, to guests, to learning, to growth in God, I am thankful that instead of a huge and abundant burst and then lull…..the light night after night has grown brighter as the days have passed. Now they are coming to an end but is that truly the case?
This walk allows for hope, immediate hope….every single week we have a special appointment with the King for the Sabbath and a ‘new year’ means a whole new cycle of Moadim- the very thing the Heavenly bodies of Light from Genesis were created for….to tell us when the upcoming feasts of the Lord were to arrive.
I don’t have a dotted line to sign on or a promise card to fill out but if I did I would ask for the strength to keep this word: I rededicate my heart and my soul to You my King. I know there is so much to learn and so much to be judged for, I know that I have failed I am dust and I am nothing to deign to speak to or of any soul, any heart… I ask for your mercy and forgiveness. I ask for a renewal of Your spirit in my heart and life and that I become better for Your service each and every day. I dedicate myself to You , Hineni Adonai….send me. May You be blessed and praised….for the miracles, the favors, the victories, the wonders and the mercies You performed for the ancestors at this time, that You in fact perform for us every single day of each and every one of our lives.
Thank you all for an absolutely wonderful Feast of Dedication. Every year gets a little better ❤ I pray you were blessed with meaning and refreshment and of course…Light!
Tonight this is my prayer:
Psalm 92; 8 But You, O Lord, are on high forever.
9 For, behold, Your enemies, O Lord,
For, behold, Your enemies will perish;
All who do iniquity will be scattered.
10 But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
I have been anointed with fresh oil.
11 And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes,
My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me.
12 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
15 To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Happy Feast of Dedication Night 8!