Our Responsibility in corona-times #2 Opportunities for spirituality and reflection

In 2020 our wintertime “festival of lights,” shall have to be celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods in a very close circle at are own home, without invited people.

This year, Hanukkah begins on December 10th and ends on December 18th.

For many, this Hanukkah will be like no other, celebrated in isolation, either alone or only with close family members. Yet Hanukkah is a time of miracles, when we remind ourselves and the world that God is present in our lives, that miracles happen, and that anything is possible. Let us take it as a special moment to think about the coming blessed times.

Until now certain rituals and customs in our community had to be adapted to meet Covid-19 guidelines.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot normally involve packed synagogues and large family gatherings, but for 2020 this was not to be, the synagogues to ensure social distancing and avoid communal prayer shawls and books. In homes, it was not only a 1.5-meter rule, because the person blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) for Rosh Hashanah should keep 2m from other worshippers and should not be blown towards anyone.

For the Days of Awe, the central feature of the Jewish religious year, many of its traditions were impossible this year. With the relaxation offered now to the religious groups one still has to remember to have the reduced amount of people in one place and to have the mask-wearing is advised, whilst people should from Sunday onwards not mix in groups of more than 15 in line with the limits on social gatherings and the “bubble-rule”.

To avoid unnecessary contact with others and because children under the age of 12 can’t attend the main services, people still are requested to try to have their worship services in their own small bubble at home. For that reason the Jeshuaist communities in Belgium did not have any public meetings and made it possible to have virtual meetings, so that the sense of community gathering could still be felt. The streaming of our services and Bible studies has been very succesful.

The opportunities for spirituality and reflection during the High Holy Days have, in one sense, have been “enhanced” by the restrictions. We should use our senses and avoid unnecessary contact with several people and as such the family meal shall have to be restricted to their own household itself. Several members hope to share their meals via video call and expressed their will to play games by internet connection with several family members and friends. Though some say it will be “difficult” to recreate family moments online and worry time will be spent focusing on IT issues rather than on the “joy of being in the same physical space and catching up” with each other.

Michael Freilich rightly mentioned the problem of some Orthodox and conservative Jews, who have no computer, radio and television or do not want to use them. For them, certainly when some are packed in a small apartment with ten familymembers, makes it not easy to be limited in their movements all the time. For many of time the time spent with others in the synagogue or in the park was would be a welcome relief.

Those who do not mind modern tools, shall already be happy and  satisfied to settle for dinner via an iPad:

“Whilst it is better than nothing, it does make these occasions less intimate.”

Despite the auspicious time of year, congregants are urged not to attend synagogue until they feel safe.

People “can still fully engage with the wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods “at home”, despite it being “dampened” by the restrictions.

Last year we called to put a menorah visible for others. Let there even be more light for others this year.
Even if you will be the only one to witness the light in your house, be not disapointed but let this symbol also be a sign of our unity and use this year as a time to relax and meditate. Sometimes people are so busy running to Hanukkah parties or preparing to host and bring Hanukkah joy to others, that they barely find time to contemplate the candles and the message they impart. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the sixth Chabad rebbe,

“We must listen to what the flames tell us,”

and think deeply into the story of Hanukkah, the sacrifices our ancestors made to preserve Judaism, and the miracles God performed — and still performs — for us.

Let us play it on the safe side. With the extra time our seclusion has afforded us, let us make this time of isolation, a time of reflection, focusing on the messages of this set apart day and how they apply to us today, and use the time for looking forward to bettering times to come. With modern technology we can visit with anyone, anywhere, anytime, connecting with friends and family on Zoom, Facetime, and other platforms.

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Preceding

A beginning by the 2016 Chanukah celebrations

Tekufat Tevet – Darkness, gold moon and Light to look forward

Eykhah – How can it be?

Our Responsibility in corona-times #1 Collective religious worship

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Related

  1. Products of European and American Jewish assimilation
  2. Coming together in dark days
  3. Virtual meetings and preaching
  4. Beginning of a festival of lights

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Further related

  1. Hanukkah ( חֲנֻכָּה‎ ) also romanized as Chanukah or Ḥanukah, is a Jewish festival commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt
  2. Upstate doctors urging safety celebrating holidaysHow COVID-19 Changed One Family’s Hanukkah Plans
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  3. Eight Nights of Light
  4. From Zoom Menorah Lightings To Parades, Local Temples Plan For Safe Hanukkah Celebrations
  5. Special #Hanukkah #ThrowbackThursday from The Chocolate Lady.
  6. 6 Things Christians Should Know about Hanukkah
  7. It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like [ChrisMukKwanzaa] and Jesus
  8. Jewish Community Across Pittsburgh To Celebrate Hanukkah Virtually
  9. Happy Hanukkah!
  10. Kicking off Hanukkah a bit differently this year
  11. Where to light the menorah in St. Louis
  12. Celebrating Hanukkah
  13. Disney Hanukkah Celebration
  14. Exclusive Live Video: Brad Farberman – “I Have a Little Dreidel”

7 thoughts on “Our Responsibility in corona-times #2 Opportunities for spirituality and reflection

  1. Tonight Yidden light the first of the Hanukkah lights.  The Gemara of Shabbat teaches the famous dispute between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel concerning lighting the lights of Hanukkah.  This famous dispute always puzzled me, what difference does it make whether one begins with lighting 8 candles the first night or only one?  What does lighting the lights of Hanukkah have to do with the life and death struggle against Greek cultural domination of the tiny Jewish State?

    The B’hag, a late scholar whose Torah shined the light of Torah during the waning domination of the Gaonim schools.  The Reshonim scholarship, this “candle of light” followed the lights of the Gaonim schools.  The B’hag holds that the rabbinic mitzvot of both Purim and Hanukkah, their light shines as part of the 613 Commandments Israel received from HaShem and MosheRabbenu.

    The Rambam denounced the light which the B’hag directed the generations of Israel.  The B’hag links Hanukkah, as does the Talmud to Shabbat.  He held that lighting the lights of Shabbat – this mitzva from the Torah – its light shines on par with the Torah mitzvot of Purim and Hanukkah.  To comprehend the light shone by the Torah of the B’hag, Yidden must discern the common denominator which the Houses of Hillel and Shammai, your shared foundation by which their Torah communicated the k’vanna of the mitzva of Hannukah as expressed through the rabbinic halachic ritual of lighting the lights of Hannukah throughout the generations.

    The Greek empire conquered the Persian empire, which uprooted the Babylonian empire, who destroyed Jerusalem and expelled Yidden from the lands ruled by the king of Yechuda from the House of David.  Greek hostility to the Torah centered not upon the Written Torah but rather the Oral Torah.  This latter Torah light expresses itself through a unique logic format by which Yidden, following the Golden Calf, dedicated the souls of their children, to strictly interpret the language of the Written Torah by employing the Oral Torah logic format alone as the light to see and understand the k’vanna and intent of the Written Constitution of the Jewish State.

    The Greek schools of philosophy taught a completely different logic system.  The logic of Plato and Aristotle overshadow the ancient Greek contribution of knowledge.  Yidden, humiliated from our disgrace of the avoda zarah of the Golden Calf, our forefathers swear a Torah oath, to all generations Yidden sanctify our dedication unto the Torah revelation to interpret the Written Torah through the lights of the Oral Torah alone.

    The lights of Shabbot, the dedication to strive to achieve shalom among family and friends.  The lights of reading the Megillah on Purim, the dedication of tohor, opposed by tuma middot unto HaShem.  The Book of Ester, the only Book of the T’NaCH which lacks the Name of HaShem.  The Name המן and המלך they teach a רמזGematria of tohor as opposed to tuma middot.  The k’vanna of “kingship” (To make a Torah blessing requires the Name and Kingship), as a king stands as the head of a nation so too the dedication of tohor, as opposed to tuma, middot unto HaShem – middot express the faith unto the revelation of the Torah throughout all and every generation.  The mussar of the Book of Ester teaches middot, expressed through the contrast between Mordecai and Haman.

    In similar fashion the Gemara of Shabbot, teaches the k’vanna of lighting the lights of Hannukah, expressed through the contrast of opinions expressed by the Houses Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel.  What defines the Oral Torah?  Logic stands upon the יסוד/foundation of Order.  The Order of the Torah logic system in its turn sharply contrasts with the Order of the ancient Greek logic formats which ancient Greek philosophers developed.

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