Blinding Light

The sun is rising in golden radiance! The sun of a thousand rays in a hundred regions abiding; the god omniscient, the aim of all prayer; the light and fire supreme, the infinite life of all Beings.

Radiant in His light, yet invisible in the secret place of the heart, the Spirit is the supreme abode wherein dwells all that moves and breathes and sees. Know him as all that is, and all that is not, the end of love-longing beyond understanding, the highest in all beings.

There the sun shines not, nor the moon, nor the stars; lightning shines not there and much less earthly fire. From his light all these give light; and his radiance illumines all creation. – Prasna and Mundaka Upanishads [1]

Hanukkah is the festival of illumination. It comes at the time of winter, the time of death and stagnation and offers the promise of creativity and rebirth. It comes at the time of the greatest physical darkness to fill the darkness with glorious Divine light.

The light of Hanukkah is a blinding light; it is the light of a thousand suns. It is a light that permeates the whole of our being and fills it with Divine effulgence.

The light of Hanukkah is the light of pure consciousness, the light that underlies all being and animates all living things. It is the light of the Seven Days of Creation, a light that is not a physical light, a light that makes all physical light seem lifeless, dark and dull. It is the light of the Self.

 

The Book of Proverbs 20:27 states:

Ner Adonai neshemat adam.” (The soul of man is the candle of God)

The role of humankind is to be a light giver, to bring the illumination of God into the world through the vehicle of consciousness, to light up the darkness of physical matter with the light of Divine Spirit.

All the good that has been done by men and women over the millennia is part of this evolving process of illumination. All the works of creativity and beauty, all the acts of loving-kindness and compassion, all the care and nurturing, all the struggles that humanity has undertaken, both inwardly and outwardly, to clear away the darkness: all are part of this great task of “light infusion.”

Rebbe Natan of Nemirov teaches that the light of Hanukkah has its source in the supernal hochmah (wisdom). It is a light that is beyond the intellect and the lower concrete mind. It is a light that cannot be pulled apart or analyzed, a truth that cannot be reached by reason alone.

The light of Hanukkah is drawn from the or makif, the surrounding light, the place of silence and Nothingness. It is a light that awakens the mind to higher awareness and makes everything we see vibrate with spiritual livingness. It is the light of inspiration that comes direct from the Mind of God. [2]

The light of Hanukkah is the light of ahava shebedaat (love in pure consciousness). According to Rebbe Natan, the reason why the vehicle for the miracle of Hanukkah is a pot of oil stamped with the seal of the High Priest is because the High Priest is the one who reveals the attribute of ahava shebedaat. One might say that it is his “seal.” [3]

Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav compares this love to the love that a father has for his child before it is born. He teaches that when we touch upon ahava shebedaat, we are touching upon the essence of love as it was conceived in the Mind of God. It is a love that is above all other attributes, beyond the normal reach of the human mind and heart. [4]

It is this place of boundless love in the Mind of our Heavenly Father that we are tapping into on the festival of Hanukkah. It is an infinite love that is beyond time and space. It is a love that has no limitations. It is a love that encompasses all of existence in its embrace.

Ahava shebedaat is the outward manifestation of the cosmic force of infinite Goodness that we have given the name of “God.” This love expresses itself in the universe through the power of the Divine Will. The more the Divine Will is revealed in this world, the more the world will be filled with God’s infinite love and goodness.

The High Priest is the one who reveals the energy of ahava shebedaat, because he is the one who can enter into the Holy of Holies and draw on the energy of the Will of God that is there. As the energy of the Shechinah in malchut (the center at the base of the spine) rises up through his centers and is joined together with the energy of the Will of God that is flowing down from keter (the crown center), Heaven is united with Earth and the power of Divine spirit is joined together with the creative force of physical matter. In this moment, the ahava shebedaat (the love in pure consciousness) of the Creator stands revealed.

The energy of ahava shebedaat is a transforming force. It can take one small drop of oil and turn it into a blaze that lasts eight days. It is an energy that heals sickness, washes away sin and clears all fears and doubts.

It was this energy that purified the Temple and led to its rededication on Hanukkah. It is this love-animated will that emanated out from the Temple and bathed the world in its radiance. It is this light that lies at the very heart of existence, for this light is of the essence of God Himself.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that our world is in its present broken state because the ahava shebedaat, the love that exists in the Mind of God for His creation, has not yet been completely revealed. However, he says, one day that love will become fully manifest in the world. When that happens, the very nature of our existence will be transformed in a moment; the wolf will lie down with the lamb and men shall beat their swords into ploughshares.

Annamalai Swami, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, speaks in a similar manner about the moment of Self-realization. He compares this moment to the effect of bringing a light into a dark room:

“When light is let into a dark room, the darkness is suddenly no longer there. It did not vanish gradually or go away piece by piece; it simply ceased to exist when the room became filled with light.”[5]

This is the nature of the light of Hanukkah, the light of ahava shebedaat, the light of the Self. And this is why in the kavanot or meditations of the Ari, the festival of Hanukkah is considered the time when we repair the Divine attribute of hod or splendor. On that great day when the blinding light of God’s infinite splendor is finally revealed, all suffering, pain and sorrow will vanish from this world forever.

from Seeking the Divine Presence: The Three Pillars of a Jewish Spiritual Life

Copyright 2009, by Yoel Glick

 

Acknowledgements    (↵ returns to text)
  1.  The Upanishads, translated by Juan Mascaro, p. 67, 78-9
  2.  Natan of Nemirov, Likutei Halachot, quoted in Likutei Etsot Hameshulash, Teshuvat Hashanah: Hanukkah # 55
  3.  ibid, Hanukkah # 29
  4.  Nachman of Bratslav, Lekutei Maharan # 33, 5
  5.  Final Talks, Annamalai Swami, p. 19

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