Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg writes books about the messy business of trying to be a person in the world, and how spirituality can inform and transform that work. Sometimes that’s about parenting, sometimes feminism, sex, God, justice, or joy. It’s all interconnected, isn’t it?
Hanukah means “rededication,” and refers to the rededication of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem—Judaism’s holiest site—after it was defiled by foreign armies.
This, then, is the time to enter into our own most holy spaces, and to look around, and to see the ways in which we need to be rededicated, renewed. How have we allowed our boundaries to be crossed? How have we set our intuition or our most precious relationships to the side? How have we second-guessed ourselves, assumed that other people know better than we do? How have we failed to give attention to the things that most nourish us? What have we let slide…. and what’s the cost?
The real miracle of Hanukah is the fact that, even after the Temple was profaned, it could still be restored. Who you are matters. What you need matters, and your intuition—the still, small voice within—tells you this, all the time. The hard part is making the space and time to hear it—but sometimes in the dark, it’s easier to find that one, tiny flicker that we need to follow all the way home.
Part of how the Temple was rededicated involved re-lighting the menorah. Hanukah, of course, is a time of light —a time to find our own light, to let it shine out, gorgeously, in every direction. To rededicate ourselves to taking care of ourselves—and to allowing our great, gorgeous light to illuminate others, to be of service to the world as a whole.
Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, wrote, “Everyone must know that within them burns a candle–and that no one’s candle is identical with the candle of another, and that there is no human being without a candle. One is obligated to work hard to reveal the light of one’s candle in the public realm for the benefit of the many. One needs to ignite one’s candle and make of it a great torch to enlighten the whole world.”
May these darkest nights of the year offer you the opportunity to shine on, exquisitely.