General Jewish Spirituality Rabbinic spirituality

Willing the Light to Brighten

Chanukkah, which begins this evening, is the festival of lights. We celebrate by lighting a candlabra each of the eight nights of the holiday, adding a candle each night.

Tonight as we light the first candle, the moon is waning, almost vanished. When the holiday ends, the moon will be waxing, becoming ever brighter. We, however, lighting the increasing number of candles assert the that the victory of hope over fears.

This year, more than most, we balance between hope and fear. Will the coming year bring prosperity and light, or despair and darkness? Lighting the candles, even as the moon disappears, even as the sun shines a little less each day, we assert that the light will return.

Chanukkah is, primarily, a holiday of the triumph of hope. The triumph over long odds. The victory of hope despite our fears.

May this holiday of light restore hope to all those in darkness, light to all in fear.

General High Holidays Jewish Spirituality Rabbinic spirituality

It’s Been a Tough Year: Welcoming 5771

All in all, the past year, ending tonight with the start of Rosh Hashanah, has been a tough year. I’ve been mainly unemployed with little bits of work here and there. My grandmother died. It just hasn’t been a fun year.

So, hitting the end of the year provides the opportunity to look forward to change. It’s arbitrary, but saying, “last year may have been bad, but maybe the new year will be good” feels more valid than saying, “well I’ve had a bad stretch, but I think this next bit of time might be better.” No inherent reason to it, but we all invest the new year with hopes and dreams.

And so, as we sit on the precipice of a new year, I put out my hope and prayer: May the new year be a good year, for all of us.

Shanah Tovah Umtukah (A good and sweet year).

May 5771 be a wonderful year. A year of prosperity and blessing. A year of satisfaction and joy. A year of love and happiness.

General spirituality

A New Hope

I am overflowing this morning. I am filled with a sense of gratitude and wonder. I am filled by a sense of hope. I am filled by a sense of patriotism which I have not felt in a long time.

The election of Barrack Obama yesterday is not does not simply signify a move away from Republican policies and attitudes (though it does signify that as well), but marks a new era for America. Not because Barrack is an African-American, but because he, like another president, almost 50 years ago, represents a bright new face on the scene, a new attitude and a new vision. 

Barrack Obama truly seems to be coming from a less partisan place. He is not of the Democratic Party establishment as Hilary would have been. He has spent only 4 years in congress. He brings with him less baggage, more hope. 

I am filled this morning with the hope that our country will begin to heal from the vicious bifurcation we have suffered at the hands of our political leaders over the past decades. I am filled with a hope that we have elected president a person who will lead us past the petty differences that divide us, and help us to see the deep connections which bind us together as one country, one people.

I am filled with a new sense of possibility, that perhaps the age of American relevance is not quite at an end. I begin to hope that this economic downturn perhaps will not be seen as the beginning of the fall of the American Empire, but maybe even the start of a new golden age of peace and sustainability (note: I did not say “peace and prosperity”). I am filled this morning with the hope that we will be able to move forward as a country rather than endlessly running around in circles. 

This morning, I believe that a new age may be dawning for us. We will have a president who is a pleaure to listen to, whether or not we agree with his ideas. Once again, rhetoric, in the best possible sense, will be a part of public discourse. 

This morning feels like it belongs to a different world than did yesterday morning, and it feels like a better world.