Blessing of Luminaries
Given the dark forces at work conniving and dealing in the governance and leadership of our country, Chanukah this year is of profound significance. The eight kindlings of the little fires, are far more than a joyous custom – every night this Chanukah is a ceremony that in small measure returns balance to the light and dark of the world.
In one rambling passage of the Talmud, the rabbis have stumbled onto the question of whether it is appropriate for someone who is blind to make the blessing of the luminaries. What a great title for a blessing! It is a blessing of gratitude over the sun and moon, that light up our day and night, allowing us to make our way through the world.
Rabbi Yossi finally answers. He says, I didn’t understand the concept until one night, I was walking in the the thick black of night and I saw a man coming my way. He was carrying a torch. But when he got close I saw that he was blind. I said to him, my son, what good is the lamp to you? He said, as long as the torch is in my hand, others see me, and they save me from pits and thorns and thistles. Rabbi Yossi understood, it is fitting even for someone who is blind, to bless the light.
There is a vulnerability to wading in the darkness, and each of us is limited by our own gifts and capacities. We are dependent on others, on our communities, to step in and help us make our way through a dark world.
But the teaching also hints at a deeper truth. That we are capable of carrying lights that we don’t even have the ability to see. We can carry actions, wisdoms, insights, truths, intuitions whose light isn’t apparent yet, because we aren’t ready to see it, for this or that reason. But others can see that light within us, and with it, they will help us make our way.
You don’t even know the lights you hold! Be a torch in the dark, that others may walk in your light.
Shabbat Shalom & Happy Chanukah!