Darkness and light, faith and reason

When God had just begun Creation, before much happened, the Bible says, “Darkness was on the surface of the deep.” The commentators say this darkness refers to the seeds of darkness planted for believers to battle generations later, in the time of the Greek “rational and intelligent” Hellenists.

The principles, ideals, and pursuits associated with classical Greek civilization and the conformity forced upon all to imitate the culture of ancient Greece threatened the survival of believers in an invisible God.

After the Bible tells us there was only darkness, it immediately continues, “God said ‘Let there be light!’ — and there was light.” Darkness is temporary until we overcome the challenge and discover the light that God created beyond and after the light.

Darkness, too, is a creation of God, “Who forms light and creates darkness.” For anything to exist, it must have a source, a place from which it came. The characteristic of darkness is that reality and truth are obscured because there is no light. In a state of darkness, the truth will often pass unnoticed.

The Greek Hellenists decreed that it was forbidden to practice the Sabbath and circumcision. The practice of the Sabbath reminds us there is a God who created this universe in six days and rested on the seventh day. The Sabbath is a day to reinforce our faith in a supreme being and our commitment to values that are more important than “six days you shall work.”

Circumcision brings a child into a covenant with God on the eighth day of his life, long before he can logically understand what is happening. “It will signify our eternal bond on your flesh.”

The highly intelligent Greeks abhorred and stood violently against the “belief” and acceptance that there is more to our lives than just logic and the physical.

I once read an article written by a neurosurgeon who had a near-death experience. He notes that while he was always under the impression that it was the brain that produces all that we think and feel, after his most recent experience, he had come to a new realization. “We” exist apart from our bodies, and “we” merely operate through our bodies.

The physical world is not where it begins and ends. There is a reality that brought this world into existence and for the sun to rise every day and the winds to blow, there is a soul and energy around and inside that makes it all happen.

The Greeks had no problem with the practice of lighting the Menorah candelabra in the Temple. Their “issue” was doing it with “pure” oil. To the Greeks, purity and impurity were illegitimate concepts. The notion of actually applying a belief and faith was an idiotic fantasy that would not be tolerated.

A small family of priests was determined to prove these Greeks wrong. “It is not in strength or power, but only in my spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” The invisible (in our faith) and the unseen (conviction in the light of God) carry far more strength than we can imagine.

As this small family of priests, the Maccabees miraculously overcame this great big army in a fashion beyond logical explanation. 

They entered the Temple to light the Menorah with pure oil because that is what God commanded. They demonstrated a miracle for all to see. Life is far more than what meets the eye. Do not accept “natural” limitations and darkness as your reality.

They found one small pitcher of pure oil, which could typically last for only one night, and instead, it lasted for eight nights until new pure oil could be produced.

The story of Hanukkah reinforces our faith in God. Light always has the upper hand and greater success for those who do not accept the limitations and concealment of darkness and the confines of logic. The Maccabees remind us of the power of faith, trust, and connection with a Supreme Being.

Chapter 126

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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