December 2017

On the Shabbat of Chanukah, we read in the prophetic book, Zachariah, one of the most inspiring lines in all Tanakh, how God truly interacts in our lives.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit …” I have always interpreted this to mean that God’s divine works are manifested though people guiding and caring for others. It is a great charge for Chanukah, where the festival miracle is not a man-made act of winning a battle, but of the oil that lasted for eight days, instead of the assumed one day’s worth.   Faith and spirit wins out over brawn.

This Chanukah, the passage from Zachariah especially speaks to me.  There are so many challenging events going on in our country and world that it is easy to lose one’s sense of hope and faith. However, thinking about what Chanukah is all about, , the verse from Zachariah charges us to look to God for something greater.  It keeps our spirit buoyant and alive when there only seems to be darkness and despair. The lights of the Chanukiah burning brightly in our homes dispel the darkness.  Understanding that the mitzvah of the lights can only be used for reveling in the joy of the festival, and not for any other secular purpose like cooking or heat, our faith is reenergized by the spirit the lights represent. We can overcome the challenges we face, large or small, personal, family, or community.

This year, when you stand before the Chanukah menorah, whether alone, or with family and friends, bask in the glow of the bright lights, rededicate yourselves to making a difference in community.  Sing aloud with joy the song of hope, “Maoz Tzur Y’shuati Lecha Naeh L’shabeiach–O mighty stronghold of my salvation,” to praise You is a delight. Let the lights of Chanukah brighten your days with faith, spirit, and hope.  Remember the words of Zechariah at this time: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit…”

On behalf of my family, I want to wish you a joyous and spiritually uplifting Chanukah!

Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer