Sunday, December 18, 2011
Hanukah and the Light of Redemption
Let's reflect on two things that are apparently unrelated but their common denominator is that both challenge our understanding. One is the first Commandment that the Creator gives to Israel in its birth as a Nation, the consecration of the New Moon as the beginning of the months, and Nissan as the first of them in which Israel's freedom began. The other is Final Redemption as predicted by our Prophets.
We may question why we start the months with the New Moon and not with the Full Moon, by arguing that we can begin with fully revealed light and end also with full light after fading into darkness and later emerging to total brightness. However, our Creator commands us to start the months when the Moon is completely dark. Sages of the Chassidic tradition teach us one of the most complex principles related to this matter, and we must break the limits of discernment to fully assimilate it. Actually, it is one of the many Jewish mystic principles that we can only grasp beyond human understanding, such as concentric circles or spheres that at the same time are separated from each other. How can they separate if they are contained within each other? This is an example to guide our mind to assimilate beyond its limits of reasoning. The principle that Chassidim bring up is that concealed light is more powerful or intense than revealed light, based on the premise that what we don't know or are about to know is more important than what we already know. Algebra is more useful than Arithmetic, Calculus is more important than Trigonometry, and the less relevant is the basic knowledge to assimilate the most relevant. Hence, what we are about to know is more transcendent than what we already know.
Likewise, we are taught in Elementary School that the light of the sun becomes more intense during a total eclipse, and we must not watch it because the stronger light may damage our eyes. This occurrence may not explain clearly how is it possible that there is more light from an eclipsed sun than a normal sun, for in our sight there is more light in the normal sun. Astrophysics may explain the issue but still in our eyes we perceive it differently. Quantum physics also explains parallel planes and other phenomena that a simple mind can't understand, and we either believe it or not. All these references invite us to expand our simple minds beyond their presumed borders, and in this regard our ancient Sages knew better and explain that the New Moon is the non-revealed light that we are commanded to reveal. This means that we as individuals are moons whose light are partially revealed, and we are to become aware of our full light when there is apparently none. They consequently say that in darkness we look for the Light because in darkness it is concealed with all its intensity, as we have never seen it before as the light that we already know. This is why they say that in the darkness of exile we must reveal the Light of Redemption. In this sense darkness as exile is the precondition to Light as Redemption.
How do we know that in our darkest moments the most powerful Light is concealed? We can simply say that darkness is what it is, and light is just absent in it. The problem is that with this approach there is no chance for Redemption. This brings us to reflect in a broader understanding, starting with who we are, what we are, and what is our true Essence and identity. In the dynamics of identity we solve all our confusions, and we begin with the "reason" of the entire Creation, its cause and effect, and the Creator behind it. He is the intense Light "concealed" behind what we see eclipsed or dark with our eyes, the New Moon that we are commanded to consecrate as the beginning of the months, as the beginning of everything.
Exile as darkness is the current state of affairs that we suffer when we choose to live under the negative aspects of consciousness that impose individual interests at the expense of the collective well being. Our oral tradition tells that in the plague of darkness prior to the Exodus from Egypt, four fifths of the Israelite people died because they couldn't "see" beyond their own personal material interests. Only 20% chose to look after each other amid the darkest circumstances, by loving each other and caring for each other. Only those were later exempt from the final plague of the firstborn and taken out from their slavery in Egypt. From them we must learn that Love is our true and only Redeemer when we live in the darkness of ego's fantasies and illusions. God's Love is the hidden Light that creates and sustains His Creation, as our Love is also the concealed Light that sustains us and liberates us from our darkest moments. Every negative situation that we face is dissipated when Love manifests fully as the most intense Light behind darkness.
Maimonides quotes the words of the Prophet (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 12:5): "In those times there will be no famine or war, envy or rivalry; for goodness will flow in abundance and delights will be freely available. Everyone will be totally engaged in the knowledge of God, as it is written: 'For the Earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea' (Isaiah 11:9)'." Can we expand our mind and consciousness to be able to conceive the material world without hunger, conflicts, greed, coveting, jealousy, lust, indolence and hatred? Maimonides follows up with goodness in abundance as the answer, and all goodness come from Love. He also points out the cause of the goodness in his next sentence, because our goodness is the result of our total engagement in the knowledge of the Creator.
Now we may be able to discern the connection between the consecration of the New Moon and our Final Redemption. Let's summarize: Darkness as exile leads us to freedom as Redemption when we are guided by the strong Hand of the Creator, which is His Love, and we emulate Him with our Love for each other. The New Moon is the remembrance that unrevealed Light is more powerful than revealed Light, hence we are commanded and compelled to acknowledge that God's Love precedes His Creation. We overcome darkness as the negative aspects of consciousness when we enthrone Love as the Light that clears negativity through the goodness of Love's ways and attributes. Finally, we live in abundant goodness when we engage completely in the knowledge of God's Love as the cause and effect of His Creation, and also as our true Essence and identity.
In Hanukah we light up eight candles in the darkest days of the year around the Winter solstice. We learned that in the darkest moments the most intense Light is waiting to revealed, and that is the Light of Redemption. We reveal this Light in each of the seven days that represent God's Creation of Heaven and Earth, plus an additional eighth day that symbolizes our permanent unity with Him, in which the ultimate Redemption takes place, the day when it is completely revealed with all the intensity of His Light.
We can conclude that our limited intellect and discernment still can't grasp how light may be concealed in darkness, but one thing we can assimilate without difficulty and it is Love as the most powerful Light capable to transform anything negative into something good, because Love is the source of goodness, as God's Love is the source of His Creation and the sustenance of all life. The New Moon and Hanukah are reminders that we have to enlighten our lives every day until we reach out to the day when our Light and God's Light become One, and our Love and His Love are One. This is the moment when we are totally engaged in knowing our Creator.
From the Book's Foreword
Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.