Weekly Inspiration

Imagine you walk into a magic store where they sell special flashlights equipped with magic lights of different kinds. For example, you can buy the light of science, and when you point that flashlight at your hand, you see not a hand, but cells and blood vessels and tendons and ligaments. Or you can buy the light of art, and you point that flashlight at your hand, you see your hand as if it were a painting by Leonardo da Vinci -- you see form, and color, and texture. And you're having a lot of fun trying out the different flashlights with the different lights. And then you see one labeled "the light of Chanukah." What will you see in that light? What is special about the light of Chanukah?

It is interesting that according to Jewish law, when we light the Chanukah Menorah we are prohibited from using its light -- from reading by it, or doing some other task by it. Instead, we are commanded to simply look at the light. All year long we are looking at what we see in the light, but on Chanukah we are to focus on seeing the light itself. We are to fill our eyes with the light of Chanukah so that when Chanukah is over, we will continue to see our lives in this special light. What is special about the light of Chanukah?

The light of Chanukah is the light beyond the sun, it's the light beyond nature; it's the light of miracles. And what does the world look like in the light of miracles? The world looks like a miracle. In the light of nature nothing is new but in the light of miracles everything is new and novel. When I point the light of science at my hand I see cells, I see veins. When I point the light of art at my hand I see form, I see shape and I see color. But when I point the light of Chanukah, I see a miracle. We fill our eyes with the light of Chanukah for eight days, so that when the holiday is over, we see that everything is a miracle, we see that even nature is actually a miracle.

Albert Einstein once said: "There are two ways of looking at the world -- either you see nothing as a miracle or you see everything as a miracle." The Jews see everything as a miracle. The ancient Greeks saw nothing as a miracle. To the Greeks, a miracle was an absurdity. To them only what is reasonable, logical and rational can be real. Miracles are illogical and therefore not possible.

The ancient Greeks could never access the light of Chanukah, the light of miracles, because they only believed in the light of reason. To them the world always existed, it never was created. History was an inevitable process -- the present linked to the past and the necessary outcome of the past. Nothing unusual can happen, history will march on, a consequence on top of the last consequence. Similarly, their view of G-d, or rather of gods, was of super-beings detached from the world, contemplating themselves. Their gods didn't care about man. For the Greeks nothing was new under the sun -- what "was" always "will be." Therefore miracles were impossible.

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