Chaos & Miracles
I spent the day running around, attempting to cram in a dozen things I need to do before flying to Australia. At this time of year there is a frenetic energy in New York CIty, and I was completely riding that anxious vibration. Last minute gift shopping, tip giving, travel prepping - all amplified with two girls to take care of; I wrote a message to Miguel “...I don’t know how I am going to have time to sit down and find something meaningful to write tonight…”
And then before i even finished typing I laughed.
I laughed because that's exactly the miracle of Chanukah.
In the time of the second temple the Greeks attempted to destroy the Jewish people, with an attack on our spiritual belief system. Against all odds, a small, courageous group of fighters led by Judah the Maccabee, fought back and were victorious against the Greek army. Our sacred Temple had been completely desecrated, but the survivors managed to find one small jug of oil with which to light the Menorah. It was only enough oil to last one day, and it would take more than a week for them to travel, locate a ripe olive tree and extract the oil necessary to keep the Menorah alight. Extraordinarily, that tiny portion of oil lasted for eight days until they returned with replenishment. It completely stretched beyond its physical qualities in a miracle of spirit. This is the miracle of Chanukah that we continue to honor to this day.
Chanukah is a celebration of things immaterial. It is a commitment to the values of our souls, and to a dimension which is unquantifiable.
We are taught that we live in a world in which everything is a limited resource. We are conditioned to believe that one person’s success means there is no room for another's. Magazines vote on “who wore it best”; There are only so many places in the class; There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the bank. This “winner takes it all mentality” means we reap rewards, or we dwell in a place of lack. It means we are always chasing something; always racing someone; always fighting time.
But Chanukah is a force that overrides all of that and comes to teach us a different way of existing, because at it's heart Chanukah is about all things intangible, abundant and everlasting.
One of the most beautiful teachings of this I learnt from Rabbi Simon Jacobson.
When we share something material, we are left with less of what we started. If I give you food off my plate my meal is smaller; If I give you money, then I have less to spend on myself. But currencies of spirit, immeasurable elements such as light, love and knowledge, defy these physical conditions - they increase as they are shared and become eternal. On Chanukah when we use one flame to light another, the glow is not halved – in fact the light is multiplied. We do not diminish the love inside of us, by loving someone else. Our love only magnifies. When we teach what we know, our own insight grows.
Furthermore, if you bring one small candle into an unlit room, it will immediately eliminate the darkness. One tiny spark can light up a vast space many, many times larger than itself. Here we are at the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year, and we have the celebration of Chanukah. In the silence of the winter, this festival comes to reveal an unbelievable brightness and expansiveness.
Chanukah is a story of triumph against the odds followed by a revelation of unlimited potential from what seemed to be a finite resource. And this is a potential that every single one of us carry. There is an eternal wellspring we can all access when it comes to matters of spirit. Consider the wondrous and limitless possibilities we posses!
I may not get all my errands done, and I understand that in the physical world I simply cannot do it all. But then there are those poetic, miraculous moments - The Shabbat table expands to fit the extra guests; The newsletter gets written amidst the chaos; My second child arrives and my love amplifies to include two; The tiny jug of oil lasts for eight days - when the intentions are holy we can defy the paradigms of nature we have grown to believe.
Pause. Inhale. Exhale. Sense into that deep reservoir within us which is abundant and unlimited. Focus on the things that grow when you share them.
May we all be illuminated and inspired by the lights of Chanukah. May we shift into a mindset of eternal values, generosity and growth, and may we experience miracles because of this connection and knowing.
Happy Chanukah, Shabbat Shalom,