The Lights of Hanukkah
This week, the Jewish people have been celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah – the festival of lights. Last week, I saw Henry, an elderly Jewish patient of mine, who survived the Holocaust. What must he think as he lights the Hanukkah lights? Through the generations, these lights must have taken on such different meaning.
To the Jew of ancient times, Hanukkah represented the eternal yearning of Henry’s people for the messianic age and the rebuilding of the Temple. This theme is captured in the famous medieval hymn, Ma'oz Tzur, Rock of Ages:
“O' God, my saving stronghold, to praise thee is a delight! Restore my house of prayer, for there we shall offer sacrifices of thanks."
To Henry and other survivors of the darkest era of Jewish history, the survivors of the Holocaust, Hanukkah served as a beacon of faith and hope - the flame of the Hanukkah candles kindles memories of a time we cannot and must not forget.
The real miracle of Hanukkah is that after two thousand years, well after the Maccabees defeated the Seleucid Greeks in 167 B.C., Henry and other Jews are still lighting their Hanukkah lamps and celebrating life.
Next week: the lights of Christmas.
If you have a comment or question about this blog entry, email Dr. Roffman at email@example.com.
Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at www.copingwithadversity.com. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com.