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Parshot/Festivals

Get rid of this year’s fuzzy slippers, and light the fire

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There’s a joke in the Jewish community that we don’t have happy holidays. I mean, it always goes along the lines of, “They tried to kill us, it took a while, let’s eat.”

Hello 2020, you obviously got the memo!

Quite frankly, this year has wiped so many of us out emotionally and spiritually. It’s early December now, but the memory of what has been one long, morbid year has got me looking forward to a little sparkle and magic this Chanukah season.

Many of us entered the high holy days feeling depleted. We know it’s a time of intense introspection and awe. But for a lot of people, this year’s high holy days were spiritually parched. For others, there was a sense that, even though the point of the holy days is a union with Hashem, all they could muster was a basic connection.

To be honest, my prayers were along the lines of, “I love you, you’re my guiding light, but I’m tapped out. Please go easy on me, and bless us all with a much better year.”

It’s hardly deep stuff.

One holy day morphed into the next, and then, almost like a vague dream, it was all over for the year. Chesvan’s lack of holidays was, for me, the perfect time to reconnect with myself and Hashem. A time to sit back from the busyness and craziness of 2020 and take stock; and it’s in those types of times that I feel that we reconnect with matters of the soul.

Now that the madness of 2020 is fading and we’ve settled into what we’ve dubbed “a new normal”, I feel like my own soul has slipped into an oversized dressing gown and old fuzzy slippers. I feel more like I’m living with G-d, not just performing.

It’s kind of like a marriage, don’t you think?

Sure, marriage is ripe with those fuzzy slippers, Netflix, and popcorn moments (or latkes and doughnuts this month). But just like a marriage, we should strive for more than comfort and routine, and create that spark with our creator. Even a healthy and balanced marriage needs some fire now and then.

Finally, here we are in the month of Kislev, and the sparkle of Chanukah, romantic candlelight and all, and we sure need some fire. For a passionate, thriving, and meaningful relationship – be it with a spouse, a sibling, a child, a relative, or a friend – we need a spark. Don’t we all deserve that sort of energy?

Interestingly, G-d didn’t command us to light the menorah. It’s humans that initiated the idea as a way of acknowledging Hashem and the commitment to us through even the darkest times.

This is a beautiful instruction for our physical and spiritual marriage with G-d. We can sit and wait for our partners to waltz in with a big romantic gesture, or we can make the first move. We can create the heat.

No matter how rough this year has been, Chanukah is a chance to take off the fuzzy slippers and put on your best heels. Take your relationship to the next level. Ignite the passion and fire your life deserves – and the lives around you.

Think about the Shamash. It’s the first candle we light, and it’s the same one we use each night to light the other candles. Now, think of yourself as the Shamash – the first step, a beacon of light that spreads joy to others.

I want you to think about that this holiday season. If we look at ourselves as a beacon of light, that’s when we can really make a change. It’s not enough just to feel safe within a community. We should actively fight for the safety of everyone.

Now more than ever.

Throughout Chanukah, we add a light to the menorah. Each night, we build on what was the day before; we take it another step further. We add new dimensions of gratitude and commitment. We add more passion and spark to our lives, and if that’s not romance, I don’t know what is!

Wishing you a festive, sparkly Chanukah, and a safe and healthy holiday season, and this time next year, may we be able to say, “We’re still here, let’s eat!”

  • Lisa Hack is the Gauteng chairperson of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism.

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