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Chanukah Dipped Into Honey

Chanukah Dipped Into Honey


When you think of Chanukah, what comes to mind? Is it the regal menorah, calling us to coronate it? Perhaps it’s the dreidel, reminding us all of the child within? What about the crackle of the oil as we prepare ourAre we living vitally? golden latkes? Or maybe it conjures up Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah? Not the first thing that comes to mind, you might say. But according to the mystics, the time between the High Holidays and Chanukah are intrinsically linked.1

Our tradition teaches that on Rosh Hashanah, G‑d decides what our year will look like. Yet these decisions are actually sealed on Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot.

However, the mystics reveal that though the judgement is sealed on Hoshanah Rabbah, it is not “delivered” until Chanukah.

Throughout the High Holidays, we beseech G‑d to inscribe us in the proverbial “Book of Life.” We desire to continue our physical, bodily existence. But there is more to life than tangible continuity.

What are we doing with the gift of life that we have been granted this year? Are we living vitally, consciously, with intent and purpose? Are we living robotically, coldly and unaware? Will we be inscribed in the “Book of Living” or the book of just getting by?

The “grace period” before judgment is delivered in order to give us a second chance through our actions to fulfill the hopes created by our prayers during the High Holidays. This is a window to show G‑d that we are more than just a pulse. We are action. We are motion. We live our faith.

We prayed for forgiveness and self-actualization in the fall. Since Rosh Hashanah, have we transformed the potential into reality?

Are we listening and empathizing with our loved ones? Are we dynamic, expressive partners? Are we nonjudgmental, yet honest friends?

On Chanukah, we celebrate the miracle of the oil. When the Maccabees emancipated the Temple from the Greeks, they found a small vial of olive oil. Even though it was just enough to burn for one day, it miraculously continued to burn for eight.

In Jewish thought, olive oil is associated with wisdom. Thus, combining olive oil with the lighting of the candles most certainly can produce enlightened illumination!

Chanukah has the power to clarify and distill. It is an auspicious time for shedding light on important questions that arose from the contemplation of the High Holidays. Now we have the opportunity to transform prayer into service and aspirations into concrete actions.

Our beloved Chanukah heroes, the Maccabees, serve as an example of transformed potential to reality.

The Greeks wanted to snuff out all things Jewish. TheChanukah has the power to clarify and distill Maccabees’ heroic challenge to the Greeks was the last stand against complete Jewish assimilation and annihilation. The Maccabees took their faith and prayers and converted them into potent, successful accomplishment.

The Maccabees wrote themselves in the “Book of Life.”

During Chanukah, the wisdom of the oil, the clarity from the light of the candles, the Maccabees triumph all point to a time of elevated awareness and transformational energy.

It’s no wonder that G‑d chose it as the time in which to deliver our yearly judgment. G‑d wants us to choose life. He wants us to succeed.

On Chanukah, may our dreams become reality. May we truly choose to live, develop and make real all that we prayed for at the beginning of our year.

See, for example, Rav Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro, Shaar Yissachar, Yemei Orah 36.
Karen Wolfers-Rapaport is a psychotherapist specializing in Narrative Therapy. She holds a BA from UCLA, and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. She received her training from Tufts University. In addition to her therapeutic work and freelance writing, Karen works with families from Israel’s Prime Minister’s office and Ministry of Defense, teaching them English in preparation for their diplomatic posts abroad. A proud mother, she is blessed to live in Israel.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Jorge Qro. Mexico December 31, 2016

Chanukah Dipped Into Honey Truly comforting words, the most of useful to be kept off from "the book of just getting by" and to change the course of our actions in order to be inscribed in the Book of Life. Reply

jim dallas December 28, 2016

karen and sefira, wonderful artwork in His svc. multidimensional illustration, deep and significant, goes so well with rosh hashanah predicating the year to be visualized in the lights of chanakah, oh the honey and oil, fruits of our lives. Reply

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