05 Dec 2017

Tuesday Morning Torah – December 5, 2017

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Bringing Your Light Into Our World
It’s hard to believe, but there is only a little more than one week until Hanukkah begins. I want to take a moment to thank all of our volunteers who made the Hanukkah Book Reading at Barnes and Noble this past Sunday a resounding success! With over twenty kids in attendance, we shared wonderful stories, made some beautiful Hanukkah pictures, and even learned how to spin a dreidel upside down!  We were blessed to see some of our “regulars” as well as welcome some new faces as well.  Please join us on Sunday, December 17th for our annual Hanukkah party beginning at 11:00am. Feel  free to bring friends and family as well to celebrate with us!  To find out more about our gift shop hours and wonderful Hanukkah gift ideas, to learn how to order latkes, or find out about our religious school Hanukkah donut making program coming up- please check out our website here.
One of my favorite Hanukkah teachings surrounds the question of just how exactly we are to light the Hanukkiah. The Talmud records a debate between Hillel and Shammai as to why we light counting upwards from one candle to eight, instead of counting backwards from eight candles down to one.
Our Rabbis taught: The mitzvah of Hanukkah requires one light for a man and his household; the zealous [kindle] a light for each member [of the household]; and the extremely zealous, – The house of Shammai maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced, but The house of Hillel says: On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased.
(One explanation for this is that according to)  the house of Shammai’s (the candles should) correspond to the bullocks of the Festival; while The house of Hillel’s reason is that we increase in [matters of] sanctity but do not decrease. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 21b
Ultimately it is Hillel, and his rationale, that win out in this argument. On Hanukkah, we are reminded that what counts in life is increasing holiness in our world each and every day. We are reminded that our task in life is to continuously look for ways to bring more light into the lives of family members, friends, neighbors, and the “strangers” in our midst.  We are taught that the potential to bring just a little more light into this world is literally in our hands each and every day. And while in truth, Hanukkah is a very minor Jewish holiday inviting us to take pride in our Jewish identity, it is also a time to remind us of just what exactly that identity should stand for.
It is with all of this in mind that on this Hanukkah, I invite you to take a moment to consider one new concrete step that you can take to bring more light into this world. What are you doing to increase holiness, and bring your light to a society that is all too often surrounded by moments of darkness. On this holiday of Hanukkah (lit. “dedication”), take a moment to ask yourself how you would answer this sacred question and then challenge yourself to get to work. Because as the lighting of the Hanukkiah reminds us- the world needs your light.
Hag Hanukkah Sameach! Have a wonderful and joyous Hanukkah!
**There will be no Tuesday Morning Torah next week- look for the next one on Tuesday, December 19th. 

 

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