Chanuka: The Hidden Light

“Let them make Me a sanctuary
and I will dwell within them.” (Shemot 25:8)

The light has been hidden
in these dark winter days.
And now, at Chanuka
we light the lamps
starting with just one
flickering at the window.
Maybe I can rededicate
the sanctuary of my heart:
can that tiny cruse of oil
be the catalyst
to reawaken
the hidden light within?

In a Chanuka teaching, the Sefat Emet quotes the verse from Shemot above, on which he says that there is a certain pure place in each of us, but it is deeply hidden. Once the Temple was destroyed, he suggests, the evidence that God dwelt among us disappeared. But even now, that hidden dwelling place can be found by searching with candles. In his book, The Language of Truth,* Rabbi Arthur Green comments, “The Chanuka candles are here reinterpreted as a spiritual symbol: they are the light of the mitsvot by which we search out our inner selves. We are looking for the hidden divine light within ourselves…Chanuka is the time of rededication, making the Temple once again pure enough to be a dwelling place for God. Our inner Temple, too, needs to be rededicated anew, to become again the place where God can dwell “within them.”

*a translation and interpretation of the Sefat Emet’s Torah commentary.


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