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Chanukah: 2021 You Want Proof?  YOU are the Proof!

12/01/2021 09:48:27 AM


Rabbi Rudin

Nissim Black, the amazing Haredi  singer/rapper who released his and fellow rapper Kosha Dillz' take on Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song 2.0 (destined to be a classic) raps, When they get up at you and say, give me proof; well it's you -- and every other Jew.  

In other words, the real menorah, the real light, is you.  Throughout centuries, generation after generation, our light has been shining.  No one: no social scientist, no psychologist, no historian, no leader, no writer has been able to explain our survival.  During the hard times, and G-d knows we've been there, how did we persist?  And during the good times -- and despite the popular view that most of Jewish history has been a nightmare of persecution, in point of fact, for the majority of our history in the diaspora we have lived in peace and mutual respect with our non-Jewish neighbors -- when assimilation and simply going with the flow seemed to doom Jewish survival, how did we stand against the siren call to vanish?   No mortal knows.

There's a story that I cannot find the historical source for that  says that when King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715) asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher to give him proof of God, Pascal answered, ‘Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!’ 

Now I don't know if my existence is proof of anything in a scientific or mathematical or even philosophical sense.  But within myself, I have no doubt at all that the little light that I kindle with my family is the same light that we've always kindled throughout the centuries.  I have no doubt at all that its the same light that Judah and his brothers and sisters kindled in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Is it history?  Yes -- but its also more.  Is it a metaphor?  Yes -- but it's also more.  Is it truth?  Absolutely.  

At some point, our children ask, or we ourselves ask, did all the stuff in the Torah really happen?   Until we get time machines, there is no way to know "objectively".  But if truths are the things that give our lives meaning, that inspire us, that help us renew our determination and kindle hope, then YES.  There is no question at all.  Yes.  Yes it happened and it's still happening because WE are still happening, still here, still filled with dreams, still a people of vision but at the same time, a people whose hard headed realism can still, somehow, get the job done when we feed our realism with our faith.

The menorah is kindled in every Jewish heart that yearns, that connects to Jewish memory.  But more, every Jew IS the menorah. The lights in the window are a reflection of the lighter and, ultimately, of the great Kindler of all light.  May our little lights, which have burned brightly through ages, continue to illuminate all hearts with hope, love, compassion and action.

Chag Sameach!

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784