8 Lights, 8 Contemplations: In What Order?

We light one candle and contemplate The One: the Breath of Life that unifies all life upon our planet.
Two candles: We contemplate I-Thou: the relationship of open heart-connection in which neither party is a tool to Do and Make, but a being to Be With.
Three candles: We contemplate Time will; Time is; Time was.

Four candles: We contemplate The Four Worlds:  Atzilut: Being/ Spirit/ Sheer Will to create, before/beyond Creation; Briyyah: Creative Intellect, Idea; Yetzirah: Relationship: Ethics & Emotions; Asiyah: Actuality, Physicality.
Five candles: We contemplate Fingers poised to act, to caress, to smash.
Six candles: We contemplate Work.

Seven candles: We contemplate Fullness, Restfulness, Enoughness.

Eight candles : We contemplate Infinitude. Beyond.


Rabbi Shoshana Leis & David Eber, RRC student and intern at The Shalom Center, each independently raised the question: In the midst of a Shmita/ Sabbatical Year, should we light the Hanukkah candles as Shammai taught, beginning with eight and going down to one? These are my thoughts about this question:

The Sages decided that Hillel's teachings should be followed in  ordinary history, but Shammai's teachings would apply in Mashiach-tzeit, Messianic Time.

Applying this to the Hanukkah candles, what would be Messianic about Shammai's teaching that we begin with eight lights and night by night go down to one?

In ordinary history, we are afraid of the dark. So as the sun dwindles and the moon vanishes, we light more and more and more lights to keep our courage up.

BUT -- ven kummt Mashiach, we will no longer be afraid of the dark. We will instead welcome it as Mystery. So then we can act as Shammai teaches: Darker and darker, till only the ONE remains.

And we might see Shmita -- with its restful rhythm for Earth and human earthlings, its sharing of the food that  freely grows, its annulment of debts -- as a foretaste of Yemot HaMashiach, the Messianic Era.


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