Here we are again in December. This year, as frequently happens, the Jewish month Kislev coincides with December. Kislev is a month the holiday of Chanukkah happens (there is only one correct spelling: חנוכה
Look throughout this newsletter as well as on our website for all of our communal celebrations.
I wanted to focus on light and darkness, a common theme for this time of year. We light our lights, as do so many other cultures during this month so that we may try to overcome the darkness. However, I want to invite us to enjoy the dark. I want for us to recognize the gifts that darkness can bring.
The first is that we need something and its opposite to appreciate both. So, in order to appreciate light, we need darkness. Anyone who has spent time near the poles knows this feeling to the extreme. In the summer near the poles, there is near constant light. And in the winter, near constant dark. We do not have such extremes: winter solstice gives us 9:46hrs of sun, summer solstice gives us 14:33hrs of sun. But that near 5hr difference feels like a lot for us. Rather than focus on the craving of the sun and its light, let’s focus on the gifts of winter.
We slow down and take our time more, we linger. The smells of this time of year are potent—just a dash of cinnamon or cardamom or nutmeg is enough to fill a house for hours. The leaves have mostly fallen from the trees and most of us can see our neighbors more clearly. Most of those neighbors smile more too. We wrap ourselves up in comforting fabrics and feel snug, even intimate. Darkness is often accompanied by sleep which in turn is accompanied by dreams.
The month of Kislev is sometimes referred to as the “Month of Dreams”. This title is given because our parshiyot this month all take place in the Book of Genesis and of the ten dream sequences in the book, nine happen this month of Kislev! I wonder if it is coincidence that during the darkest days of winter, our Torah focuses on dreams. Perhaps we too can focus on our dreams during the coming month. What do we envision for our Agudas Israel community? Where can we find improvement in ourselves? How can we engage deeper in our relationships?
What do you dream of? Feel free to see that rhetorically, or as an opportunity to come talk with me.
Wishing us all a light-filled, dream-fulfilled December.
Rabbi Rachael Jackson