Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Menorah Lighting: Day Seven

Okay, somewhere in the world, it's still the seventh night of Hanukkah.  I tried hard to get this one done on time.. just didn't work out that way....

So to the topic..

When I was researching songs, I found "This Little Light of Mine" on a number of Hanukkah music compilations.  I was a little struck by this.. as I guess I had always thought this was a Christian song.  But it makes such good sense for it to fit in with Hanukkah, as one of the major themes I am seeing is moving beyond yourself.. lighting yourself so you can shine on others, especially the vulnerable and oppressed.

Now, I'll admit.. growing up listening to little songs like this.. the meaning of "sharing your light"  was mostly about evangelizing. But with the heat of struggle between different faith systems that we see today, similar to the struggles of earlier times, I think it is time to look at this idea a little further.  I found these poignant words from an article by Rabbi Sid Schwarz entitled "Hanukkah and Interfaith Dialogue: Increasing our Shared Light" in the Huffington Post:

Two thousand years later, we are still fighting the same battles. In a world that is changing so rapidly, religion provides comfort, continuity and timeless certainty to millions of the faithful in the world. But often that religious package also includes heavy doses of triumphalism, chauvinism and intolerance. It is incumbent on religious leaders to help their adherents distinguish between the elements of faith that foster peace and understanding and those that lead to prejudice and extremism.

As with Christmas and Kwanza, Hanukkah falls during the winter solstice. It is the darkest time of the year. Appropriately enough, all three festivals have as a central symbol candles and light. If we are to move our world closer to the messianic ideal articulated in the sacred texts of most of the world's religions, each of us will need to find ways to light a candle, increase the light and banish away the darkness.

On the sixth day of Hanukkah, the following blessings are recited:

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe,
Who sanctified us by His commandments,
and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe,
Who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

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