Inspirations

Reflections on Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, honoring the story of the Dedication as depicted in the Talmud and other Biblical and Apocryphal writings.

For this holiday, our logo depicts the Hanukkiah, a special nine-branched menorah used only for this occasion. For eight nights at sunset, several blessings are shared and songs are sung as the shammash or “helper” candle is lit, and then used to light the other candles. The first night, only the shammash and the candle for the first night are lit. Another candle is added each night until on the last night, all nine candles are lit.

Background

The land of Israel was once under the rule of the Syrian-Greek empire. Antioch, the ruler, wanted everyone in his kingdom to do things his way. When there was a rebellion, Antioch began a killing spree to wipe out the Jewish people. He also enacted severe laws that forbade worship. He destroyed sacred documents, and banned many of the rituals that were so important in the lives of the Jewish people.

modern Hanukkiah

Judah and his brothers, the Maccabees, fought back and restored the temple in Jerusalem to its purpose of reverence. Because the golden menorah had been stolen, they made a new one out of cheaper materials. They only had one cruse of oil that had been blessed by the priest Yochanan, and it was only enough to last for one day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days, which is the inspiration for the Hanukkah celebration.

  • The Maccabees represent mutual love and bestowal (or honor).*
  • Judah means “praise of God,” and represents a mental attitude of Christ Consciousness leading to greater expression of Divine power.
  • Jerusalem: means “dwelling of peace” and represents the place of peace in our Consciousness.
  • The Syrians represent our intellectual pride.
  • The ancient Greeks represent our egoistic desires.
  • Yochanan (variation of John) means “God bestows mercifully,” representing the abundance and generosity of Spirit.
  • The Eight days represent a cycle of completion. Several Jewish customs center around a period of eight days. In general, the number 8 in scripture represents a new beginning, meaning a new order or creation.
  • The Temple: represents the regenerated body of man, which when he attains it, he will never again leave. This enduring temple is built in the understanding of Spirit as the one and only cause of all things.
  • Hanukkah: the beginning of our experience of the spiritual reality, the initial crossing of the barrier between physical (egoistic) and spiritual (altruistic) principles.
  • The lamp oil represents not only the abundance of the universe, but also our state of  Consciousness. By trusting, we can overcome a Consciousness of lack, and tap into the abundance that is always there to supply our needs.

What it means

On the surface, Hanukkah is about thanksgiving and prosperity. Metaphysically, it is about transcending our material existence, and embracing our spiritual nature as we grow to understand the principles of Natural Law. Hanukkah teaches us about appreciating what we have, even if it seems limited at times, while trusting in the abundance of God’s universe. It also teaches us about having gratitude for all of the blessings and freedoms, both physical and spiritual, humanity has fought for over the millennia, and which we continue to work toward today.

Regardless of your faith background, it’s easy to find deeper meaning and inspiration in this story as it relates to your own life: Be grateful, have faith, and trust in the light of Divine Order.

Mary Baker Eddy’s words inspire a simple, yet perfect affirmation which we often use to bless an offering:

Divine love always has and Divine love always will supply my every need!

adapted from Mary Baker Eddy

Shalom.


*Source of interpretations: Kaballah.com, Metaphysical Bible Dictionary and The Revealing Word (Unity), and Biblestudy.org

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