Teachings for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah is a call to rededicate the sacred space that is our own being, the sacred space that is our life. Rabbi Yael offers Mindfulness teachings for each night.

Hanukkah 5771

Make for me a holy place that I
might dwell within you, that I might dwell among you.

                                    -- Shemot 25:8

Hanukkah is a call to rededicate the sacred space that is our own being, the sacred space that is our life. Hanukkah is a time to know ourselves as the mishkan -- the sacred dwelling of God: to know ourselves as sacred vessels, each of formed in our unique way. Formed and shaped as we are so our own unique light can come through and shine in the world.

On Hanukkah, we rededicate ourselves to the care of these sacred vessels—not for our own sake—but for the sake of each other and the world.

Each of us was created to bring forth light and each of our lights is necessary for the well being, the healing, the balance of the whole. 
Over the course of the year, our vessels become clogged, cracked, stained. On Chanukah, we spend eight days purifying and cleansing these vessels so our
unique light can come through for blessing.  As we go through the nights and days of Hanukkah, each day lends its own teaching to the purification of the vessels. 

In the darkness lit by candles, new light is revealed opening the way. 
The purification process reveals the new and changing shape of our vessels—it reveals cracks, holes, brokenness, beauty.  The cleansing is not about reaching perfection but rather it is about being with what is true and finding the strength and humility to let our light shine so our lives bring forth blessing.  We don’t need to be afraid of the vulnerability, the fragility, the cracks that are revealed, for as Leonard Cohen sings, "There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in."

Day One: 

Opening to the mystery.  Beyond anything I can know or understand is the mystery of all being. At the heart of all is oneness. To this we belong. 

 Sit in silence with the first light.  Bring the one light inside. Touch the point of eternity that exists within you and all being.

Day Two:

Spirit coming into form.  The one entering into the many. Creation. Distinction.  The birth of paradox, contradiction, relationship. Creating the spaciousness inside ourselves to hold contradiction and paradox with compassion. 

Blessing practice: Sit with the candles and pray for peace, love and well-being for yourself and nine other people.

Day Three:

The (gesher) bridge that reaches across differences, the way to connection and relationship is gemilut hasadim, acts of loving kindness.  While the candles are lit, write a note, make a phone call, have a conversation with someone with whom there is some need for healing.

Take an action this day that helps someone you don’t know.

Day Four:

The door of possibilities: Standing on the threshold -- looking out, noticing the possibilities, noticing what is opening. Listening for the calls that beckon us forward. 

 Sit with the image of an open door. Notice what arises on the threshold. Notice the emotions, the thoughts, the images that pass through. Be with the open door.

Sometime during the 4th day of Chanukah, step out into the world: write a letter/email, make a phone call to one of your elected officials letting them know what doors you hope they will work to open.

Day Five: 

The breath: taking in and letting go. Constant change. Being awake to the moment. Being awake to the movement. Opening to all that passes through, to all that changes from moment to moment. Sit with the lights and notice your breath. Be present to the movement with each breath, the movement from moment to moment. 

The 5th light calls us forward with discernment and patience. Take a breath and consider, what are wise and compassionate choices that I can make?   We ask ourselves, how can I be kinder and more loving toward my family and friends?


Day Six - Rosh Hodesh 

Connection.  Joining.  Alignment. Standing as a connective channel between heaven and earth.

While the candles are lit, do a silent standing meditation: Feet together, arms by your side. Feel your feet connected to the earth, your crown open to the heavens.  Imagine the light coming through you.  Radiant, warm, glowing light coming through your crown down into your feet.  Up from your feet, filling your body.  Radiant, pure, warm light coming through you, filling you and radiating out from your hands and breath into the world. 

 Sometime during this day give tzedakah.


Day Seven: Rosh Hodesh

Zeman. Time. The holiest moment is now. Wonder with gentleness, compassion and curiosity: What do I do with my time? What do I give my hours, days and weeks to? How can I use my time for good? How can I use my time to bring forth well-being and joy?

Spend some time this day doing something that brings joy to yourself, to another.

Day Eight: Hanukkah -- Rededication 

 On the 8th night, we gaze at the brilliance of the flames and ask ourselves how can I best be of service?  What are my gifts, my blessings, my challenges, my passions? And how can I best offer myself for the benefit and well-being of all?  Sit with the candles and feel yourself in all your glory—in your brokenness, fragility and absolute beauty.  Each of us is a dwelling for the sacred.  We ask that we recognize the sacred in ourselves and each other and do our best to act from this place of knowing the holiness in ourselves and all creation.

"Help me make my life a sanctuary in which God dwells with ease and from which my light shines forth for good and blessing for all people." 

-- Rabbi Yael Levy





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