Monday, December 14, 2015

The Illumination of the Menorah: Then and Now

As the sun sets this evening and closes out the 8th day of Hanukkah, the festival of lights and miracles, I close my eyes for a moment to try and connect all of the information I've read...and studied...and gathered...and read some more this past week.

I have to take a moment to step back and marvel at how the Father works in my heart in season. How this celebration of Hanukkah seems to mirror the picture of Havdalah, which daily impresses on my mind the significance and importance of making the distinction of light and dark in this world, and choosing the holy over the profane.

The book of the Maccabees is commonly read during this time of year, but the paragraph below (with a little context included) shined especially bright into my heart...

“…Mattathias … said unto his sons, ‘Now therefore, my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. Call to remembrance what acts our fathers did in their time; so shall ye receive great honour and an everlasting name.
Was not Abraham found faithful in testing, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness? Joseph, in the time of his distress, kept the commandment and was made lord of Egypt. Phinehas, our father in being zealous and fervent, obtained the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua, for fulfilling the word, was made a judge in Israel. Caleb, for bearing witness before the congregation, received the heritage of the land. David, for being merciful, possessed the throne of an everlasting kingdom. Elijah, for being zealous and fervent for the law, was taken up into heaven. Hannaniah, Azariah, and Mishael, by believing, were saved out of the flame. Daniel, for his innocency, was delivered from the mouth of lions. And thus consider ye throughout all ages, that none that put their trust in Him shall be overcome…
Wherefore, ye my sons, be valiant and show yourselves men in the behalf of the law; for by it shall ye obtain glory.
’’ I Maccabees 2:49-60
And as I ponder, there are 4 aspects of Hanukkah that have been illuminated in my mind...

As Mattathias charged his sons to choose to be zealous for the instruction of G-d, we too, are met with choices daily in which we have the opportunity to make the distinction between light and darkness, and choose that zeal for the covenant. The kind that brings holiness back into the world through each thought, spoken word, action...these opportunities to choose to elevate the holy are is however, a conscious choice...

While there are many times in a day where the light and darkness are easy to separate, most opportunities to purposely choose an action of holiness often comes in the deepest and darkest moments and struggles of life. A trial or hardship that you choose to look at as an opportunity, is then turned from the negative that it was and forming the energies to dedicate a place or moment of time into holiness. Taking something that is dark and creating a bright positive light. The dedication of this choice is the first step to the redemption of your light and bringing heaven down to earth...

We could go back in scripture and look at many, many examples of our Forefathers who after choosing the holy, took a step of action in complete faith not knowing the outcome. In the story of the Maccabee's, the life source of oil in the Temple was destroyed except for one jar, enough to keep the Menorah in the Temple burning for just one day. It would be 8 days before they could properly prepare more oil yet they took the step of action, without knowing what was next...that 1st candle that they lit was in essence, reaching to HaShem with faith...

Hashem sees our actions that we make out of righteousness and faith. We take that first step (light the first candle) which opens wide the gate for His miracles. He is waiting for us to light the Menorah (this can be studied further in the first aliyot of Leviticus 24). In the midst of dark spiritual times, not to mention literally the darkest time of the year, the Jewish people rose up and lit the Menorah.

While the book of the Maccabees shares much of the military success of that time, we must also remember the Spiritual level of Hanukkah - the charge to begin that small flicker of Light of the Menorah in the midst of darkness. To cleanse the Temple both physically in our actions, and spiritually in our hearts as we choose holiness and shine brightly.

We take action and light that first candle, HaShem lights the rest...He sees the faith and gives it great honor.

This year in Israel the Jewish people made an effort to light a Menorah at every site where there was a terrorist attack. In a very beautiful action, they are showing that what was meant for darkness, they will with G-d's help turn into light.

To light that first flame requires making a choice, a dedication and a step of faith. For it to shine brightly for another eight days is a miracle from HaShem. For a brief moment, a time that is difficult in history, whether it was the Maccabees so many years ago or us today...we are taking the step of faith and choosing the holy when we see the distinction between light and dark...we dedicate to HaShem and He answers.

Hanukkah may be over for this year, but may our flame in the Menorah of G-d keep illuminating brightly until the next season of Hanukkah, the oil not run dry. We have a mission, to bring blessing and light back to the world!

As the Menorah, may our hearts burn for our first love, HaShem, and for Israel.


Average Jill said...

Loved this! Beautiful. Reflected many of the same thoughts I had this year. I did not know about the menorahs on the various sites. I LOVE how we are to "fight with light" - to be more alive. That's how we win. And we win by being that light!

Anonymous said...

So I was wondering.... Are you and your family jewish or what?
Just found your blog, and i really like it BTW :D
Susannah King

Susannah Joy said...

Hello Jenna!
I LOVE your blog so much! It really helps me learn more about the feast and the Torah!
And I wanted to let you know that I awarded you on my blog.
I hope you participate!
Susannah Joy