November 29, 2007
Chanukah and adult faith
What does it take to celebrate a holiday with such violent roots?
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Or, to put it another way, perhaps our question is not, "How can we possibly celebrate God and miracles if God didn't save our pure souls from the evil hands of others?" but, rather, "How might we celebrate God and miracles while acknowledging the many complex ways in which our own hands have impacted history?" How might our theology shift to accommodate the awareness that our miracles have sometimes had painful consequences for others? How might we now celebrate renewal, rededication and resanctification with a greater understanding not only of what it means to receive light, but also to give it out?
What might that mean about what we do in the world today, what action we take as unforgivable atrocities rage just outside our door? We leave our Chanukiyot in the windows of our houses to publicize the miracle that is God's ongoing manifestation in the world -- how might our behavior, our actions, similarly reflect our desire for all to partake of God's miraculousness?
We have to be honest about the history that's happened, to take responsibility for what has been done by Jewish hands and to use what's past to spark discussion and action about how to behave in our world today. We can and should embrace the rededication of our souls, hearts and minds on a spiritual level, and we should also use these tropes of rededication to look at the world at large, to see what has been defiled and how we can make it holy again. And maybe, after all, being able to move past a childlike faith into something more integrated and whole is, in itself, a sort of rededication, a resanctification -- in itself kind of a miracle.
Danya Ruttenberg (danyaruttenberg.net) is the author of the forthcoming "Surprised By God: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Religion" (Beacon Press, 2008) and editor of "Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism" (Seal Press) and a forthcoming book on Judaism and sex from NYU Press. She's in her last year of rabbinic training at the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University.
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