Raza d’Hanukkah/The Secret of Hanukkah

Raza De Hanukkah
The Secret of Hanukkah
In eight poems and a lullaby


Neir li neir li
Neir li dakik
Ba Hanukkah
Neiri ad-lik

Ba Hanukkah
Neiri ya-ir
Ba Hanukkah
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
that burns.

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.
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

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.

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
day one.

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
Hanukkah menorah
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,
uncorrupted oil
shemen tahor
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
Lit up
— 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
dedication —

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 chanted.

We located this wisdom in the language of soul,
With tending, caretaking,
midwifery, it requires our attention –

Oh Hanukkah
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.

Begin now.

On the eighth night

We stared into the candles

The Temple lit seven
Hanukkah we light eight
all natural cycles given in seven.

Eight —
surrounding the seven
the extra measure set around nature
beyond nature
the eighth lamp
light from darkness itself
darkness as an aspect of light.

It’s all light
all over.

james stone goodman
united states of america