CLERGY CORNER: Fused together

Posted on 29 November 2012 by LeslieM

“The soul is the Lord’s candle.” (Proverbs 20:27)

Chanukah is soon upon us. Many of you may be thinking that Chanukah is coming early this year, but if you look at the Lunar Calendar that the Jewish People have been using for more years than I can count, you will find that Chanukah this year is actually on the very same day that it comes each and every year: it begins on the evening of the 24th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

On Chanukah, we light lights. We start with the highest candle, known as the Shamus. We light the Shamus with a match and then we use that particular candle to light the other candles (Whatever number is appropriate for that particular night). The Shamus represents the light of G-d. It was G-d who originally said, “Let there be light.” Each of the other candles on the Chaunkiah (The Chanukah Menorah) needs to be touched by the wick of the Shamus, by the light of G-d.

The wick is a fuse and just as each candle needs to be touched by the fuse of the Shamus to lighten up, we each need to strive to fuse ourselves to G-d and, in so doing, we light up our very soul.

But Chanukah isn’t just a time to fuse our souls with G-d; Chanukah is a time to fuse our bodies as well. The body that contains our soul is often referred to as a Temple. The modern day house of worship, our temples, our shuls, our synagogues house the Torah scrolls. Our bodies house our neshamot, our souls, during our sojourn on this earth. As a Rabbi’s son, I grew up knowing that the Synagogue was to be kept clean, it was to be kept in good repair and it was to be a place of warmth and comfort. On Chanukah, we recall a time when the temple (the great temple in Jerusalem) was ransacked, holy items were torn apart or burned and this wondrous place of holiness was turned into an idolatrous sty by Antiochus IV and his Greek hordes.

But lo and behold, there was a miraculous military victory by a small group of untrained Jews led by the family Maccabee, and we regained control of the great temple. The problem was that it was a total mess.

So began a period of rededicating the temple to make it, once again, a place of holiness, a House of G-d. While Chanukah reminds us of the rededication of the temple, let us not forget that our bodies are also a temple, and just as the synagogue houses objects sacred to our faith, our bodies house something else that is extremely sacred … our souls. This Chanukah, let us remember not only to light up our synagogues and our homes with the Chanukah Candles. Let us remember not only to rededicate the temple, but let us also rededicate ourselves to taking care of our bodies, the temples that house our souls during our time on this earth, and, in doing so, may we be a light unto the nations.

Shalom my friends,

Rabbi Craig H. Ezring

Rabbi Ezring is a member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and serves in this capacity in a number of healthcare settings in the area including Advocate Home Care Services and L’Chayim Jewish Hospice in Partnership with Catholic Hospice of Broward County.

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