Winter is coming! As I write this, we are expecting our first winter storm of the season. The winter months are here. Yesterday, I started my run at 4 pm, by the time I finished at 5 pm, it was dark and cold. Even though it was dark, there were holiday lights everywhere and I felt joyful to be able to celebrate the season with so many of my friends and family, albeit from afar.
There’s a rabbinic tale that can be used to explain why Hanukkah occurs at this time of year. In it, Adam notices the days becoming shorter and shorter and gets worried that light will disappear altogether. “But then, on the 25th of the Hebrew month that Hanukkah comes out of, he realizes it’s just because of the winter solstice,” says Elisheva Carlebach, a professor of History at Columbia University. “He was so grateful when he saw that the days would grow longer again that, on that turning point, he celebrated. I think [the story] is a way of explaining why Jews have a festival of lights in the darkest season. It’s a kind of oblique acknowledgment that there is some common impulse for people to face darkness with light.”
In our darkest times, we look for the light. This is why 2020 Hanukkah might be more joyous than in years past, we expect brighter days in 2021. We know things look a little different this year, but we are finding ways to stay warm by sharing on-line Hanukkiah lightings, song sessions, and present exchanges. We’ve created new and different ways to connect, and in some ways, these connections are stronger. They are filled with light.
My hope for us all is that these days of Hanukkah and winter are filled with family, love, and light. Chag Sameach.
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