Does God Need Our Light?

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So here we were on Hanukkah, all of us for lighting the same candles singing the same blessings, posting the same type of pictures on Facebook, and the thought occurred to me, “such a generic experience!” This is what it may have felt like to bring offerings in the Temple so many years ago. This must’ve been why we were so attracted to Greek culture, which stressed individuality and individual expression, the hero, the novel, the tragedy, etc.

And what’s so special about these lights! Does He need candlelight, what with all the suns and galaxies He’s created?

So what is it that God wants for us – from us when we light our lights?

Let’s go back to Aaron, the first Kohen, who was given the privilege and honor of bringing up the first candles on the menorah in the Tabernacle (והעלותך את הנרות), an act that the Midrash tell us was greater than and separate from all the avodah in the Tabernacle!

Why was Aaron given this privilege? The Midrash says that Aaron was known for his ability to see the preciousness in each individual; an individual who lit the candle in each person he spoke with; whose life work was to help each individual recognize and realize the specialness and uniqueness of that person’s own light. He reveled in others achieving their goals without any envy. He recognized that all people share the stamp of Adam, but each in a unique and individual way. So Aaron was given this privilege because of his character- not because he was a Kohen! He was Aaron who happened to be a Kohen – not a Kohen who happened to be Aaron. Surprisingly, this turns out to be why WE, and not just Kohanim light hanukkiot! (Although I learned this last point, from Rav Matis, I cannot remember its textual source.)

From what we know of Aaron’s nature, we can infer that what God wants from us is not the candlelight, but our love of the light and he needs our willingness to share what that light means with others, to relate our struggle and love of the light to our children and others through language – these are things that God himself is not able to do and for which he created us in the first place through millions and millions of years of chaos and competitive evolution, which finally resulted in a self aware universe through the first Adam and his offspring.

That is how precious God thinks each of his creations is So, it is my job to fall in love with the “other” in people – not just in how they are similar to me – as their unique expressions of God’s multifaceted oneness and our commonly unique spark from Adam.

With this awareness, we can see that God actually treasures the light of the menorah more than the light of galaxies! Everything else in the universe is already here. The ONLY thing missing up until my moment of candle-lighting has been me.

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My Profile: The Gemara says that all of our constructs and paradigms exist as a result of suppressing information. From chaos, the sum potential of all that is possible - physicists call it white noise; statisticians call it raw data - we must push away that which is unwanted. We are left to work with our visions and patterns of reality. The big question is, how well do those visions match up to what reality actually is in all its inter-related complexity and detail. On Yom Kippur, we come face to face with the reality that "The hidden things belong to HaShem our God, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, that we might fulfill all the words of this Torah." (Deuteronomy 29:28). God's ultimate and uncompromising reality must hold us accountable even for paradigms we are NOT aware of! Many refer to this as "The law of unintended consequences." This is why what I hold dear is not answers, but an endless path of growing awareness that attempts to come closer and closer to reality as it really is - not the "reality" that is just a projection of some inner solipsistic construction within my brain. The questions- not the answers - lead me on that path. I have become deeply committed to a life long journey of learning, growth, change, love, discernment, service, play, commitment, questioning, and valuing disagreement. At my core is the notion that without self-doubt and without valuing difference and differing opinions, one cannot develop a fulfilling and meaningful life. My art starts as a white sheet of whole paper, which represents chaos - all the possible pictures that one could create on it - onto which I impose order. Simultaneously destructive and defining, my paper-cutting adds meaning to the paper. Cutting pieces out is a creative process that graphically reveals before me my deeper paradigms so that I can scrutinize them - so that I can better understand the limits and characteristics of the space in which those paradigms work and gain insight as to where they are no longer valid. But it is not just a discovery of my internal landscapes. It is a process of becoming aware of myself within relationship and covenant. It is my simultaneous love and awe of and participation in the splendor of God's continued creation. It is my Avoda.

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