The mystics teach that the lights of HanukkahThe holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving. reflect the Infinite light of creation, opening realms of possibility and transformation. Here are intentions and meditations for each of the Hanukkah days. May they encourage us to sit with the shining Infinite light, and may this light cleanse, renew, calm and inspire our hearts and souls. (Dates are for Hanukkah 2020.)
Friday Dec. 11th – Hanukkah Day 1
The Light of the One
The tradition teaches: shemaThe most central prayer in Jewish liturgy, the Shema states: "Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One." These words are written inside mezuzot and t'fillin. It is traditionally said during all major services and when waking and going to sleep. – ve’ahavta. Listen and love.
Shema. Listen, pay attention, within all the diversity, within all the paradox and contradiction is a oneness to which we all belong. Each time we touch into the awareness of the One—ve’ahavta—we strengthen our capacity to love with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. A great love flows through the universe seeking to lift and hold us and come through us into the world.
Meditation for the First Day of Hanukkah
Taking our seats and bringing ourselves to an awake and upright posture, we let the attention rest gently on the breath, noticing the sensations in the body as the breath is received and released. After a short while, we invite the awareness that it is One breath that moves through all life. The breath that flows through each of us and all of us is the same breath that enlivens the trees, birds, animals and all creation. There is only One. Each time we notice the attention has wandered, we return to the sensations of the breath and the awareness that we share this One breath with all life.
ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. Dec 12th – Hanukkah Day 2
The Light of Shabbat
One of the most magnificent gifts of Shabbat is the call to stop. Shabbat arrives and says there is nothing we need to do. Nothing we need to create. There is no need to strive or pursue. Be with what is, Shabbat calls. Know yourself as part of the created world and enjoy the beauty and delights. Pause, listen and be. The practice of Shabbat realigns our souls and returns us to harmony with each other and the earth. Stopping and being is essential, the tradition teaches, for the wellbeing of all the world.
Meditation for the Second Day of Hanukkah
Taking our seats, we set an intention to sit in the light of Shabbat, a light that is filled with shalom, wholeness and peace. Resting the attention on the breath, we gently say to ourselves, there is nothing I need to do; there is nowhere else I need to be. I am free to sit in the light of Shabbat and I do so for my own sake and for the sake of all creation.
After a few minutes we open to the call: Shalom, experiencing the sound and vibrations of Shalom in our bodies. Over and over again we repeat, Shalom, letting it travel with the breath and inspire its own rhythm. Any time we notice a thought or story arise, we. respond, Shalom, and return the attention to the breath. Shalom, wholeness, peace, may the vibrations fill and hold us.
As we close the sit we say: u’fros aleynuPrayer proclaiming God’s kingship, said near the conclusion of the prayer service. sukkat sh’lomekha,
Spread over all beings, all creation, a shelter of peace.
Sunday Dec 13th – Hanukkah Day 3
The Light of Blessings
Blessings abound. Even in the turmoil, even amid all the brokenness, blessings abound. Life is filled with treasures. Loving relationships, joyful moments, music, poetry, art, the magnificence of the natural world. Goodness is present. Noticing the blessings and allowing ourselves to experience the good strengthens and sustains us. It gives us energy, inspires the spirit and raises up joy.
On this third day of Hanukkah we sit in the light of blessings, not to deny what is difficult, but rather to be supported and encouraged by the good that exists.
Meditation for the Third Day of Hanukkah
We take our seats, settle into an awake and upright posture and bring the attention to the breath. With gentle awareness we notice the breath moving through the body. After a few minutes we set an intention to receive each breath as a blessing, a gift that flows through us and all life. As we watch the breath move through the body, it might help to repeat the phrase: Each breath is a blessing, a wondrous gift.
Every time we notice the attention has wandered, we give thanks for noticing and return the attention to the breath, affirming: Each breath is a blessing, a wondrous gift.
Monday Dec 14th – Hanukkah Day 4
The Light of Faith
Tradition teaches that the first prayer we are to say upon awakening each morning is modah ani l’fanekha—I am grateful and in relationship with the Infinite Presence of all life. The prayer ends with the phrase rabbah emunatekha, great is your faith in me—rabbah emunatekha, the Infinite Presence has great faith in me. The prayer affirms that no matter how we are feeling, no matter how we are regarding ourselves in any moment, the Infinite Presence has great faith in us, and we are not alone.
On this fourth day of Hanukkah we sit with or emunah, the light of faith, and the awareness that the Universe is rooting for us in all that we are and in all that we do.
Meditation for the Fourth Day of Hanukkah
We take our seats, bringing ourselves to an upright and awake posture. Letting the attention rest on the breath, we begin to repeat the phrase: rabbah emunatekha, great is your faith in me. Over and over, traveling with the breath, rabbah emunatekha, great is your faith in me. When we notice belittling or berating thoughts arise, we gently and firmly, respond, rabbah emunatekha. To every thought or story that the mind conjures, we respond, rabbah emunatekha. No matter where I find myself, rabbah emunatekha, the Infinite Presence has great faith in me. We close the sit with this verse from the psalms:
I choose the path of faith and place practices before me. —Psalm 119:30
Tuesday Dec 15th – Hanukkah Day 5
The Light of the Presence
The Prophet Isaiah calls, All the earth, all creation, is filled with Divine Presence. —Isaiah 6:3
The mystery of life flows through all. The trees, mountains and rivers sing with life.
The animals of the sky, forests and waters dance with life.
The heartbeat of the earth sends forth a steady chant. Scared presence fills all creation.
As we come into the fifth day of Hanukkah, we sit with the sights, sounds and sensations of the natural world. May we feel the melodies and rhythms singing in our souls.
Meditation for the Fifth Day of Hanukkah
Taking our seats, we bring the attention to the breath, noticing how the breath feels as it moves through the body. After a short while, we visualize something beautiful in the natural world—a tree, the ocean, the sky filled with clouds, night revealing the stars, a cardinal, a fox, a river moving over rocks. We breathe into this image and set an intention to feel it, not as something separate from ourselves, but as something we are a part of. With each breath, we sit with this wonder of creation, noticing its beauty and its life. Each time we become aware that the attention has wandered, we give thanks for noticing and bring ourselves back to the breath and the sensations of sitting with the Divine life force manifest in creation.
As we close the sit we affirm: All the earth, all creation, is filled with Divine Presence.
Wednesday Dec 16th – Hanukkah Day 6 – Rosh HodeshThe new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh. Tevet
The Light of Connection
The realm of mystery tells us, you live in a world full of light and life. Know the great reality, the richness of existence that you always encounter. Everywhere you turn, in everything you do you encounter sparks full of life and light.
You help them and they help you. —Rav Kook, “The Glory of Life”
On Rosh Hodesh Tevet we celebrate the Infinite web of connection that holds and lifts us all.
Meditation for the Sixth Day of Hanukkah
As we take our seats we breathe gently into the heart space. After a few moments we begin imagining and experiencing threads of connection going out from our heart, vibrating with the breath, and intertwining with the heartstrings of each other and all the world. With each breath comes the awareness of the interconnection, the weaving together of all life, a magnificent, ever expanding tapestry. The heartstrings of all the world connected, intertwined, vibrating together. Each time we notice the attention has wandered, we return the attention to the breath and to the awareness of the heartstrings of all intertwined in harmonious beauty.
Thursday Dec 17th – Hanukkah Day 7
The Light of Life
Eternity exists in the present moment,
Everything that ever happened, created this moment,
Everything that will ever be, goes forth from here.
The ancestors and the children of future generations are here with us. The ancestors are holding us in a loving embrace, sharing their determination and courage. And the children are sharing their hopes and visions. They are praying for our strength, clarity and well-being. We are on this journey through life together.
Meditation for the Seventh Day of Hanukkah
Taking our seats, we rest our attention on the breath, noticing the sensations of the breath being received and released. After a few minutes, we set an intention to experience each breath as the life force connecting us l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation: Each breath, an experience of the life force that flows through all, carrying the love, courage and determination of the ancestors and the prayers of the children’s, children’s children. Each breath, the sustaining life force that carries the support of the ancestors and the hopes of the children to us in each moment. As we close the sit, we lift our open hands in gratitude and connection.
Friday Dec 18th – Hanukkah Day 8
The Light of Hen—Grace
The mystics teach that the flames of Hanukkah echo from the beginning of creation and shine with hen—grace—pure love, freely given. To sit in this light is to be embraced and renewed by abundant graciousness, love and compassion. There is nothing we need to do to earn this love, there is no one else we need to be to receive this great compassion. The light of grace, pure love, freely given, is at the core of creation and flows to all. On this eighth day of Hanukkah, we sit with the light of grace-filled love and let it comfort, embrace and renew our souls.
Meditation for the Eighth Day of Hanukkah
Taking our seats, we set an intention to sit with the light of hen. With each breath, we invite the light and open ourselves to receive a loving and grace-filled embrace. The light of hen arrives with gentleness and ease. The light seeks us. We might notice the light as a color. We might feel its vibrations as it travels with the breath. When the mind gets distracted by challenging thoughts or stories, we breathe gently into these thoughts and return the attention to or hen, the light of pure love, freely given, that is seeking and finding us. We close the sit by giving thanks and reminding ourselves that we are channels through which the Divine comes into the world. The more love we are able to receive, the more love we are able to give.
May the lights of Hanukkah clear the way for love and blessing to come through. May there be healing for all beings and all the earth.
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