9 Kislev 5779 / Saturday, November 17, 2018 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Shine a Little Light    

Shine a Little Light

As opposed to the Greeks, we do not idealize physicality; for a Jew, the physical is important only in as much as it serves our true spiritual existence…


Chanukah.  The holiday of light.  But what does it mean?  


A ten year old boy visited an amusement park with his father.  As they stood in line to enter the “haunted house” a scary witch with a large pointy nose and wild hair popped her head in and out of the tower window, laughing spookily “tee, hee hee!”  After handing their tickets to the conductor, father and son boarded the train, which slowly entered the dark haunted mansion.  Loud screeching noises were heard from all directions.  Ghosts and ghouls attacked from all sides, skimming their heads.  Witches soared all around on brooms, shrieking eerily.  Hearts were pounding as the train twisted and turned on its way to the other side.  Then, to everyone’s relief, sunlight appeared as the train emerged from the mansion.  As passengers began to exit the train, the little boy put his hand on his head and suddenly realized that his yarmulke was missing.  He told his father and they went to the conductor to ask for help.  “No problem” said the conductor, “there is a little time before the next ride.  Follow me to the mansion and feel free to search for your yarmulke.”  As the conductor led father and son through the back door of the mansion, he turned on… the lights.  To the boy’s utter surprise and disappointment, the pitiful reality of the “haunted” mansion was exposed.  The ghosts and ghouls turned out to be nothing more than white sheets hanging over sticks.  The large speakers from which the loud scary noises emanated hung from the four corners of the mansion.  The “scary” witches were exposed as nothing but cardboard figures sitting on fake looking brooms.  The boy looked down and was happy to find his yarmulke, but the pathetic memory of the haunted house with its lights turned on remained.


Greece, our nemesis in the story of Chanukah, represents darkness . . . empty externality.  The Greeks were the descendants of Yefet (Noach’s son), who glorified physical beauty above all.  Greek society held the human being as the perfect form, the most intelligent creature on Earth; the pinnacle of creation.  With them began the Olympic Games, competitions that highlight the greatest physical-athletic achievements among men.  They lauded physical beauty, the gladiators’ strength.  The Greeks were on a mission to spread their philosophies, values, and the belief in their many gods and idols to the entire world.  Every nation that they conquered embraced their ideals, enjoyed improvements in public works, architecture and other modern inventions.


The entire world welcomed the Greeks . . . until they reached a small stubborn nation called the Jewish people.  “We bow only to the One G-d!” declared the Jews.  We possess an eternal G-dly soul, and that is our true essence.  Therefore, we do not idealize physicality, which is nothing but a fleeting existence for its own sake.  The physical is important only in as much as it serves our true spiritual existence.  We cannot light our Chanukah candles nor can we do acts of kindness or keep most of the Torah’s commandments without our physical bodies.  It is through the physical activity of spiritual acts that the body serves its highest purpose for which it was created.  The Creator of the Universe breathed a living soul into each one of us.  We are His children and He desires a close relationship with all of us. We are not born perfect, but need to perfect and refine our inner selves - our soul - in accordance with the Torah.


We don't see the perfection and refinement required by the Torah through physical terms; rather, we see it in inner refinement, character development and sensitivity to others whether out in public or in private settings.  We possess a great G-dly soul that can affect the world through our actions.  We circumcise our baby boys as a sign of a covenant with the Almighty and thereby declare that we are not born perfect but that our mission is to sanctify ourselves and become greater spiritual beings.  We have a holy day called Shabbat, which is not just another physical day but also a day that exudes a great spiritual energy that influences the rest of the days of the week.  On Shabbat, we rest from mundane work to spend a day imbued with holiness connecting with our Father in Heaven.  We determine Rosh Chodesh, the new moon, by which the Biblically ordained festivals are set.


The Greeks viewed these three commandments as antithetical to their beliefs.  “You do not possess a part of the G-d of Israel” they declared.  The Greeks preached that G-d is too great for the dealing of mere human beings.  He created the world and left it for us to rule according to our ways.  Shabbat is nothing but Saturday, you cannot possibly rule on the new moon and circumcision is not a covenant but a desecration of the perfect human body.  Even the Torah is a book filled with intelligence for human discretion and not a means of understanding the ways of G-d and connecting to Him.


With that, the Greeks darkened our eyes.  They only gave true value to that which is external and visible to the human eye.  However, Chanukah comes to remind us though the lighting of the menorah, that the only true lights are spiritual lights emanating from Hashem; the light of Torah, the light of our holy soul and the hidden light that will be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.  Those spiritual lights are the true energy of the world.  All that the Greeks represented, until this very day, is just darkness, the absence of light, an emptiness void of what is holy, true and eternal.  Their glitter and glamor and “enlightened” ideals will fizzle into oblivion when Hashem turns on the final light of Moshiach, may it be be speedily in our days, amen!

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Soooooo true!!!! Love this article!!!
Shai bar Levy12/4/2017 5:06:06 PM

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