Sacred Flames: A Series of Meditations for Chanukah

Sacred Flames is a series of meditations and suggestions for practice by Rabbi Yael Levy for each night of Chanukah, December 24 through January (Because of Shabbat, the Introduction and Blessing for the First Candle is being posted at noon Friday.

As we direct our hearts, lights shine in darkness,

Lights of graciousness, compassion and justice.

Psalm 112:4

In the darkest time of the year, flames are lit through out the world to proclaim the power of the spirit to shine and reunite us in love, hope and generosity.

On Chanukah, we light candles for eight days, to remember that in the desecrated Temple, amid the rubble and the ruin, a drop of oil was found. It was only enough to last one day but it burned for eight, the amount of time needed to find and prepare more sacred oil for the holy flames. The first drop of oil was lit not knowing what would be and it burned brighter and longer than anyone thought possible.

Chanukah implores us to take action when all seems lost, even as success appears impossible and all that is valued lies in ruins. Chanukah honors the sacred and declares that people dedicated to the spirit will rise.

This year we share the days of Chanukah with those who are honoring Christmas and Kwanzaa. The timing is a reminder of all that unites us and urges us to reach out to each other and join together to re-sanctify this holy planet and rededicate ourselves to the well-being of all.

It can be tempting this year to feel defeated by all that that has been laid to waste, to be trapped in the fear, anger, hatred and rage that swirls within and around us. We need to be strong and to take care so as not to become these feelings, to not become corrupted by all that we seek to change.

We spend the days of Chanukah rededicating ourselves to some of our highest values and ideals. We focus on what we love, raising up what is most essential. In kindling these flames, we bring strength to the spirit and direct our hearts toward actions that will shine lights of graciousness, compassion, justice and peace.

May it be so.

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