Posted on | December 7, 2009 | By Rabbi Max Weiman | 9 Comments
Keshet – bow
The Jewish astrological symbol for the month of Kislev, is the bow – from the bow and arrow. While this symbol has a number of implications, one of them is to focus on a goal. An archer must aim well for the bow to do its job.
What are your goals? If they are physical, material, like $100,000, a new car, a buffed bod, then they have no potential to give you truly lasting joy. Just as the physical world is temporary, all the joy we get from it is also only temporary.
Don’t get distracted
When the baseball season is over, football, hockey, and basketball seasons get rolling. When the NHL and NBA are done its back to baseball. You can be a sports fan all year long. Watching sports can be fun, and when “your team” wins it can make you happy. But the happiness is only temporary. If you don’t access joy in spiritual things, the happiness of winning the Super Bowl is over when you come home from the game, or turn off the T.V. and you go back to lacking happiness. People who lack happiness and meaning will seek distractions. They will use a Jägerbomb or an Adam Sandler movie. There’s nothing wrong with all of these things. There’s nothing wrong with movies, sports, and alcohol. It’s what we use them for is the issue. If we’re using them for enjoyment to distress or put us in a better mood to enhance our life or allow us to serve God with more joy, then, in moderation, they can be a mitzvah. If, on the other hand, they are an escape from reality because we don’t know where to turn, if our job becomes the place and time when we long for the weekend to escape what we do the rest of the week, there’s something seriously wrong.
We need a goal
A goal directs our attention and helps us focus our efforts. And the goal needs to be spiritual. Our soul will never be satisfied with hamburgers or even tofuburgers, turkey or tofurky, duck or um..well, skip that one. We need to satisfy the soul. There is no alternative. There is no substitute. Everyone has a soul and that soul has a yearning, and that yearning is to become one with the Infinite. It’s time to get in touch with your inner mystic.
A lot with a little
One of the quirky mystical things involves the miraculous. Not the mind blowing sea splits type of miracle, just a highly unusual event where you strongly sense the hand of God. This is the symbol of Chanukah. Sure the oil lasted 8 days instead of one, but if you looked at it you couldn’t tell there was anything out of the ordinary going on. It was somewhat hidden. Only if you stared at the flame for 30 hours straight would you be witnessing a miracle. And the seats weren’t that comfortable back in those days for such a long spell. But the menorah did a lot with a little. We fought off the Greeks who were more numerous and better armed. We did a lot with a little. That’s the power of this time period. Look at your resources and your spiritual goals. Do you feel you lack what you need to accomplish what you want to accomplish? I’ll bet anyone alive at the time of Chanukah felt that way too. Until God showed them the secret. With the Almighty’s help you can do a lot with a little.
When the Jews fought the Greeks during the time of Chanukah they were fighting not for physical survival – the Greeks would have let them live as Greeks – they were fighting for spiritual survival. Ancient Greece was the embodiment of Yavan, a descendent of Noah’s son Yafes. The word Yafes in Hebrew means beauty. All of Greek thought whether its science, logic, or art, can be used to adorn spirituality, it was imbedded in the creation by God not as an end in itself, but to be subservient to spirituality. What the Greeks did was like taking the handle off a large beautiful jug and saying, “What a beautiful work of art this handle is! Let’s make a museum of handles like this.” They missed the whole point. A meteor shower should put awe of God and His creations in your heart and mind. The design of the human body should astound us with God’s intricate design.
It would seem that this is the time period to examine our lives and the world around us. Perhaps we should look for ways we can orchestrate it all in one direction, towards one goal… to be one with the Creator.