“Men darf zich tzuheren vos di lichtelech dertzeilen”
– we need to listen to what the Chanukah flames tell us
– says the Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak.
But how do we listen
to flames? We can see them; we can study and meditate on them. But light is
a visual, not an audible, experience. A pure flame does not give off a sound.
So how do we listen to the Chanukah flames?
The answer lies in understanding
the nature of the flames and in their message to us. Why do we light Chanukah
candles in the first place? The historical/technical reason is to commemorate
the miracle of discovering and lighting the oil of the Menorah in the time
of the second Temple, after the Greco-Syrians defiled it. However, the question
remains: Why is the light of the Menorah so important in the first place that
we should care about its desecration and reconsecration? What power do these
flames contain that till this very day we continue to kindle them every year
“The flame of G-d is the
human soul.” The light of the Menorah is the light of your soul, and the story
of the flame is the story of your life. Look closely at a flame and you can
see yourself in its flicker. The flame licking the air reflects your soul’s
transcendent yearnings. The restless flame tells the story of our restless
lives, as we fluctuate between tension and resolution. The light generated
from the burning fuel mirrors the work we do in transforming matter into spirit
(energy). The light and warmth of the flame is the way we should be illuminating
and warming every person we meet.
To appreciate the Chanukah
flames we need to not just look and see them; we need to listen
to them – listen to the flames as they manifest in our souls,
and its dignified journey on this earth.
And this is no small feat.
Most of our time and energy is immersed and invested in our needs to survive
and function in the material world. We have little time and strength for our
souls. Comes Chanukah and compels us to stop. To slow down our outward drives
that so consume us, and travel inward. Light a flame each night, and then
listen to its story. Look deep into the flame and you will see… yourself.
This restless, rising, illuminating, warming flame is YOU. The real you.
Not the one that wears many different masks to suit different occasions. Not
the “outer you” submerged in your material struggles. The flame is the real
you – your soul waiting to be released.
Last night I had the privilege
to experience the release of many good souls, at our Chanukah celebration
in our new home in the East Village. With drums, light, melodies and just
plain warmth and tenderness – a few hundred souls came alive. Above all: We
listened. We listened to the flames, to each other, to voices within and above
ourselves; we listened to our souls instead of our bodies. For those few hours
at least, we freed ourselves from the narrow confines of our daily routines,
which hold us hostage in its tentacles, and allowed our souls to take over.
The result: Pure magic.
Unbelievable energy. That is the power released when matter converts into
I have been blessed with
the opportunity to bring souls together; to bridge people from diverse backgrounds
and create new connections of networking souls intersecting and intertwining
with each other. Is there a greater pleasure in life than to see souls breathing,
connecting, creating music together?
And when matter converts
into energy – voila! Magic happens.
Try it out. Gather family
and friends, and for that matter, strangers as well. Gather in a Chanukah
celebration or any get-together that lifts people from their immediate, materialistic
concerns to a sublime environment. And watch those flames rise; witness the
power and energy that rises when souls come alive.
Listen to the flames.
Listen to your soul. Listen to your children. Listen to others.
Speak less. Listen more.