Kerhonkson Synagogue
A message from Rabbi Suri Krieger
From the Rabbi

Enlightening Rededication

True, that little jar of oil story is a midrash from the Talmud. It is rabbinic tale that became the hallmark of the Chanuka story…far different from the battle bloody details of military encounters found in the Book of Macabees. But as stories go, it bears a powerful message. Light and fire have always been of the most vibrant symbols in the Jewish tradition, from the earliest books of the Torah through the latest rabbinic commentaries.

And God said, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1)

And an angel appeared to Moses out of a burning bush. (Exodus 3)
A fiery chariot appeared with fiery horses, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2)

Hanukkah lights are to be lit in order to publicize and meditate upon the great miracle
(Tractate Shabbat 21b-23a) {referring to the miraculous jar of oil and to the miraculous military

Whether we consider that miracle to be the myth of a little jar of oil outlasting any anticipated odds, or the defeat of the all powerful Assyrian Greek army by the militant band of Macabees against all odds, a victory restoring religious freedom to the Jewish people, the message of the miracle is it burns brightly through fire and light imagery. We are a people whose spark refuses to extinguish, even in the darkest moments of our history. We are the flame whose light, when passed on, ignites and instills but is not consumed.

Light is often connected with the preeminent Source of Divinity. In Jewish Mysticism there is the kabbalistic notion of a primordial divine light so potent that it shattered the vessels which contained it. It's sparks scattered everywhere, hidden within, beneath and above. It is for us to reclaim the sparks, to bring them out of the darkness and reclaim their light.

I like to think of the flame of a single candle as an indicator not only of divinity, but as a hub of love. One might think that by passing it on to ignite another wick, the original flame might be diminished, or go out. But lo and behold, it fuels and refuels and keeps burning strong. So it is with love… in touching upon one it grows ever stronger in the original. So it is with the spiritual fervor of the Jewish people. In outreach to others who have been in the shadows of our Jewish heritage, we strengthen our own identity and connection with Judaism.

May we rededicate ourselves, in the darkest months of the year, to seeking out those sparks yearning to burn brightly… the sparks of divinity and the sparks of love.

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Albert Schweitzer

Rabbi Suri Krieger

Rabbi Suri Krieger
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