Raza De Hanukkah
The Secret of Hanukkah
In eight poems and a lullaby
Neir li neir li
Neir li dakik
Shirim a-shir (2X)
C – F – C
C – G – C
Am – G – F
Em – F – G – C
On the first night
We asked questions:
What kind of light?
Mai Hanukkah? [Shabbat 21b}
What is Hanukkah?
A miracle but which one? [Rashi]
It hasn’t clarified yet.
Backwards we are telling the story
the prophet Elijah standing on a street corner —
Fire, he said
as well as light
some specially created light
or fire –
We call Hanukkah
the festival of lights
Josephus did too —
the kind of light
On the second night
the Chernobler Rebbe came
dressed as an angel in Japanese embroidered silk.
The Chernobler Rebbe opened:
oil is wisdom
poured over the head
of the Priest King Messiah
overflowing like precious oil on the head
running down the beard of Aaron. [Ps.133:2]
The pure finely-beaten, most excellent olive oil —
the olive that releases its finest product when pressed.
Smell this, said the Chernobler Rebbe,
pressing his wrist to my nose
another quality of oil
the capacity to absorb.
I smelled yasmina
When I make perfume the scent is absorbed into the oil —
then distilled. Wisdom
is absorbed from the world this way
— both its beauty and its contaminants.
Now, said the Chernobler Rebbe,
one small vial of pure oil
when fired up lights everything.
Wisdom when it is tended burns pure
burns long burns sure.
We are all in the game —
attaching to the pure
resisting the contaminants lurking
everywhere around us within us.
Bind me to the purifications
separate me from the contaminants –
O God — a heart of purity create in me. [Ps.51:12]
On the third night
an angel came in the form
of a master of Kabbalah
he opened with
Darkness IS Light —
God separated the light from darkness
called light day
and darkness night
And it was evening and it was morning
In the beginning, darkness and light one,
a single seamless sourced good
then the challenge
subdue the dark
illumine the good
the fearful dialectic.
Light from the luminous essence of darkness –
this the Hanukkah light.
Temple menorah lit by day to illumine the night
lit by night to reclaim dark —
light from darkness itself
the source of light.
On the fourth night
We remembered the opposing Greeks,
who defiled all the oil except
one small vial of the pure,
one small vial that when fired up
lit up the entire eight days.
From our prayers —
The miracle of the few
Against the many,
So it is with the quality of light
— when it is tended it burns pure
From the holy Temple in Jerusalem
— the world.
On the fifth night
Rebbe Nachman appeared
he spoke out of a thatch of black beard
He told this story:
a young man left home traveled to a faraway land
where he learned the art of making menorahs.
When he returned home he went to work.
He worked alone covering the menorah with a large cloth
— even the father had not seen it.
When he was done, he asked his father —
gather together the townspeople in the square.
He unveiled his work
— everyone was silent.
Each one saw a defect
— each a different defect.
The father told his son,
what one person praised another person cursed.
That’s what I learned, said the son,
each defect is in the eyes of the person who sees it.
I fashioned a menorah entirely out of defects,
I made the menorah out of flaws.
Now I will begin its repair.
Rebbe Nachman always giggled when he came to the end of a story.
When you find a flaw, he said,
you find your own flaw.
On the sixth night
a tarnished angel appeared
We fired up the lights, stood staring into the fire.
What’s the miracle?
he asked us.
Light victory power revenge clarity purity
Afterwards, he asked for a ride to the Metro Link
and maybe a couple of bucks to get downtown.
What’s the miracle? I asked him back.
Grateful, said the angel
— the miracle is gratitude
find that and you won’t need anything.
You’ll breathe into the souls of your feet
and live as long as you want to.
On the seventh night
We turned to the purity within,
resisting the many contaminants
Lev tahor bara li Elokim,
a heart of purity create in me, O G*d [Ps. 51:12]
We located this wisdom in the language of soul,
With tending, caretaking,
midwifery, it requires our attention –
we fire up the quality of soul
every year it strengthens
this is the secret
the raza of Hanukkah –
Light up the wisdom within
let it be brought into the world
separate it from the contaminants
care for it in the common
and uncommon methods
of soul tending.
On the eighth night
We stared into the candles
The Temple lit seven
Hanukkah we light eight
all natural cycles given in seven.
surrounding the seven
the extra measure set around nature
the eighth lamp
light from darkness itself
darkness as an aspect of light.
It’s all light
james stone goodman
united states of america