BIG MIRACLES IN SMALL JARS
In this week’s Torah reading, an amazing mosaic of events comes together. It is as if all through the past weeks’ readings – which have been detailing events in the life of Jacob and his sons, the Twelve Tribes of Israel – we have been collecting pieces of a puzzle that now come together to reveal a fascinating picture. And as an added bonus, all this relates to the miracle of Chanukah, and – like all of Torah – packs powerful lessons deeply relevant to our modern lives.
At the core of it is the secret of the small jar of oil which Jacob found on Mount Moriah as he was making his escape from Esau, and which the Maccabees found on Mount Moriah when they re-captured the Temple – a small jar containing enough oil for one day but which kept the menorah lit for eight days.
What does this teach us?
There are big miracles in small jars. We may like to score great achievements; we may prefer to gravitate to major events and dramatic experiences. But often we will encounter “small jars” – nothing very substantial or glamorous. We may meet a lonely soul in need of help. Perhaps a little child who can use a smile, or an older person lying in a hospital bed.
We may think that what we do is insignificant. But the “small jars” contain potent energy, pure oil, perhaps the most potent energy of them all. And it may well be that the entire purpose of our existence is to uncover these “small jars” that will come our way.
TO BE THE WICK OR THE FLAME?
As much as we try to be positive, at times it seems so difficult to bring light into our dark world, to find peace amidst the chaos. Yet we all have that capacity. Within us all lies an eternal spring of hope – a “pilot flame” that burns continuously. But on the other end of things, we are also consumed by our material concerns and survival – let’s call that the “wick.”
The physical wick and the spiritual flame constantly compete for our attention. That struggle is the story of our lives – to be the wick or to be the flame? The fascinating thing is that both are necessary, as indeed no flame can burn without the wick which provides its fuel. Some of us may be more wick-oriented and others flame-oriented, but each of us contains both and requires both to accomplish our mission in this world.
This sermon discusses powerful lessons from Chanukah’s flames, explaining how to take these lessons and put them to relevant use in our lives – in the business world, in our closest relationships, in educating our children – how to ignite our wick, reveal our unique light and illuminate our surroundings, even the darkest crevices.