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Rabbi's Erev Shabbat Message

12/03/2021 12:11:15 PM


Shabbat Miketz:
Dreaming of Light

זֶ֚ה דְּבַר־ה' אֶל־זְרֻבָּבֶ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר לֹ֤א בְחַ֙יִל֙ וְלֹ֣א בְכֹ֔חַ כִּ֣י אִם־בְּרוּחִ֔י אָמַ֖ר יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת׃

This is the word of HaShem to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit - Zekharyah 4.6


Shalom Shir Tikvah Learning Community,


Thank G*d for Jewish stubbornness! No matter how dark the days of our people’s experience, we continue to light our small - and - mighty candles. Through our historical stubbornness, whether or not we realize it, we are demonstrating the wisdom that at all times and in all places נשמת אדם נר השם - “the human soul is HaShem’s lamp.” (Mishle, Proverbs, 20.27)


This time of year when the nights are long, we feel in our souls the aptness of the metaphor; it’s hard to see, and the terrors we imagine loom large. Like so many of our people before us, we are living through times that mix joy and apprehension, and the chance to light a few small candles is powerfully comforting.


Our parashah this week is about dreams, and our haftarah, a special one in honor of Hanukkah, is about light. Torah demonstrates that it is human to dream, and to wonder about our future; the Talmud explores this theme at length, considering the power of the dream interpreter. It is the genius of Joseph, the first Jew to make it in Exile, to ensure that Pharaoh’s dream allows a future of surviving, even thriving.


וַיֹּ֤אמֶר פַּרְעֹה֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף חֲל֣וֹם חָלַ֔מְתִּי וּפֹתֵ֖ר אֵ֣ין אֹת֑וֹ וַאֲנִ֗י שָׁמַ֤עְתִּי עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר תִּשְׁמַ֥ע חֲל֖וֹם לִפְתֹּ֥ר אֹתֽוֹ׃


Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it. Now I have heard it said of you that for you to hear a dream is to tell its meaning.”


וַיַּ֨עַן יוֹסֵ֧ף אֶת־פַּרְעֹ֛ה לֵאמֹ֖ר בִּלְעָדָ֑י אֱלֹהִ֕ים יַעֲנֶ֖ה אֶת־שְׁל֥וֹם פַּרְעֹֽה׃


Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “Not I! G*d will see to Pharaoh’s welfare.” (Bereshit, Genesis, 412.15-16)


Dreams are variable; Joseph’s insight is to recognize that they are beyond any one human’s ken - they are of G*d, which is to say, mysterious to us. As such, they are both promising and dangerous. 


Jewish tradition insists that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel. The special Haftarah for this Shabbat brings us the lesson of that light:


 זֶ֚ה דְּבַר־ה' אֶל־זְרֻבָּבֶ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר לֹ֤א בְחַ֙יִל֙ וְלֹ֣א בְכֹ֔חַ כִּ֣י אִם־בְּרוּחִ֔י אָמַ֖ר יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת׃

This is the word of HaShem to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit - Zekharyah 4.6


Overcoming darkness does not require fireworks or bonfires. The quiet power of one light - one soul - can light up the world. 


This evening we will light the sixth candle of Hanukkah just before the Shabbat lights. (Please join me here to light together at 4pm). As you light yours, may the small but mighty flames warm your spirit.


The Hanukkiyah is our community: each single light that comes together helps us all to shine more brightly - and none of us loses. That is the blessing of light; that is the light we dream.


Shabbat Shalom and Hanukkah sameakh!

Rabbi Ariel


a few Hanukkah gifts for you:

1. Learning Through the Longest Nights

Whether it's consumerism, marginalization, or other kinds of darkness, Jewish tradition teaches us to deepen our spirituality to calm our hearts.
Join Rabbi Ariel for 8 Zoom hours in honor of Hanukkah to learn the mystical and ethical spiritual paths that can help us find our way.

Every weekday at 4pm from December 13 to 24 (Fridays are bonus days when we’ll join the Shabbat candle lighting group.)

All are welcome for any or all gifts. More information on topics will be available for those who register.

Register here:

These sessions will be recorded for those who cannot attend but would like to learn.

2. Jewish Literacy 

A new learning site where you can ask Rabbi Ariel anything at any time, and join in with others who also want to learn. Just click on the link! Great for those newly Jewishly practicing or wanting to refresh what they think they know. Open to everyone!


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Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782