CULTIVATING LIGHT IN DARKNESS
It brings me great joy to move into the Winter Festival Season. It is getting dark earlier and earlier, and daylight hours are minimizing in the Northern Hemisphere. At the same time, it is awesome to know that it is gradually getting warmer in the Southern Hemisphere. In this way, a sense of balance is maintained across the face of Earth.
The practice of this season is to add light. Everyone lights candles. They add warmth to the soul and body. Light is not limited to a physical light. This season ignites inner light, everyone at their level and in their way. As a result, light is spread and carries grace and kindness with it.
The Bnei Yisaskhar had a lot to say about this; here is a taste and means to bring meaning into your life and practice.
Kabbalah for Kislev
These next two sections are meditations you can sit with. Every year something new comes through. What do they evoke for you, now?
Paraphrased from The Bnei Yisaskhar, Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov
B’nei Yisaskhar, Kislev – Tevet 1:1
The glorious permutation of the Divine Name that illuminates Kislev is
It comes from the first letter of each word from these words of Torah
וַיַּ֡רְא יוֹשֵׁב֩ הָאָ֨רֶץ הַֽכְּנַֽעֲנִ֜י
And the dwellers of Canaan saw….Genesis 50:11
… the methods of care of Yaakov after he died, a he was cared for and buried in Maarat haMakhpelah (Caves of Makhpelah).
According to what we received, he died in Kislev during Hannukah. We know this because Because Yaakov, our ancestor, was bedridden on the first day of Sukkot (Tishrei 15). from the phrase in Torah
Yaakov went ‘Sukkatah’ (to Sukkot)
Yaakov was bedridden for seventy days until he died. This makes the time of his death Hannukah. The permutation of the Divine Name for Kislev was planted in this Torah section as a hint for that reason.
What do you glean from this four letter permutation?
Here are some things that I see, the transmit (וי) and receive (הה) letters are separated. Like energies are attracted to each other. Vav which represents the emotional body is in the spot of spirit. May the emotional bodies be boosted, elevated, and informed by spirit.
What do you see?
Yaakov will come up again about Hannukah, stay tuned.
B’nei Yisaskhar, Kislev – Tevet 1:3
In Sefer Yetzirah (5:9) the letter sameh
…was made sovereign in transformation and connected to Keter (Crown) and mixed this with that, and formed through them: Bow (Sagittarius) in space, Kislev in time, and lament in Spirit, Male (transmitter) and Female (receive).
Could you look at the letter Samekh? It is a circle. Two letters in the Hebrew Alef Bet are depicted as circles; the Samekh above and the final mem (ם). They are reminders of Havayah’s love that surrounds us. The Sameh is sovereign during Kislev. This circle of love calls in Presence to keep our inner and outer lights glowing during this cold season. The word “samekh” shares a root with “support” as well as “ordination,” suggesting that when clergy is ordained, the teaching is there for support. The letter siin (שְׂ) sounds like an s, as does the samekh. When the samekh is traded with the siin, the root translates as “blanket”. This brings a sense of being wrapped in a blanket of Havayah’s love.
SAMEH AND SIIN
This practice of switching samekh and siin is demonstrated in the mystical piyut El Adon sung Shabbat morning shortly after Barkhu, the call to prayer. It is an acrostic where each line starts with the next letter in the Alef Bet. There is one exception, a siin is placed where a samekh is expected. This method has been used before.
New awareness sprouts every day, every moment. Sit with the samekh and meditate on the potency of this presence. What fresh awareness sprouts in your mind? I’d love to hear about it.
B’nei Yisaskhar, Kislev – Tevet 1:6
How many candles are lit during Hanukah?
Mitzvah candles, not including the shamash.
The Baal ha’Rokeach (R’ Eliezer of Germitzah) of blessed memory taught that the early rabbis established that 36 candles would be lit for Hannukah. This corresponds to the first 36 hours of creation when the first human dwelled in Eden. This light was saved when they were made to leave the garden tzaddikim for later generations.
For this reason, there is a tradition of invoking acknowledge this in the blessing by using the words “ner hannukah” instead of “ner shel hannukah”, to emphasize that this is the primordial light itself is being accessed. It is training (hinukh) for the day when Havayah’s light will illuminate the worlds.
The Blessing then, is Barukh Atah Havayah Elokayny Melekh HaOlam Aashe kidshanu b’mitzvorav v’tzivanu l’hadlik new Hannukah.
You are a fountain of blessings, Havayah, who connects with us through mitzvot and directs us to light the Hannukah candles – “hinukh” training candles. Training so we can learn to see this potent light.
More about 36
Let’s count the number of mitzvah candles lit for Hannukah, excluding the
Shamash, the first night we light one candle, the second night two…
1 +2 + 3 +4+5+6+7+8 = 36.
We count 36 mitzvah candles.
Talmud Yerushalmi (Brachat 8:5) says that the first human, Adam, was in the Garden of Eden for 36 hours. They had access to the Primordial light for 36 hours. The light of Eden is known to be unique and potent. When you gaze into this light, you can see from one end of the universe to the other.
The Dinover tied this to Torah by noticing the first time word “Tov” is in Torah, (טוב) which translates as good, was associated with the first light.
The first letter of Tov is tet (ט). Check out the Genesis 1:4 “..Vayar Elokim et ha’or ki tov..” (וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב, Elokim saw that the light was GOOD ). He noticed that in his Torah, the tet had four taggim. These four lines reach up like little antennae that can be seen in the Torah script.
Since the numerical value of tet is nine, and there are four taggim, he shares a mathematical connection to 36 in that 4×9 is 36.
It is cold outside. The effort to stay warm brings anxiety. The limited hours of daylight bring stress. We can choose now, more than ever, to be a source of grace and extra kindness.
It is meaningful to set an intention when gazing at the lights of the Hannukah menorah. Before lighting, ask a question on your heart. You can vocalize it, and you do not have to. Light the candles, say the blessings, and gaze at the candles. Stay open to awareness that may arise in you.
Stay open to the reality that we are gazing into the primordial light – the first light of Eden. It travels from one end of universe to the other. We can choose to suspend disbelief, if only for a moment, and stay open to miracles. Insights may arrive immediatly, or later when you are doing something unrelated.
The secret of 36 mentioned above is a tool to help us access the prophetic qualities in that light – “Ruah Hakodesh” (Holy Spirit). Everyone at their level, in their own way.