Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

Time to light up the Light of Truth


In this blog, I make the case that Chanukah is about finding our centre of spirituality in a world that is not rational, in a world that challenges Jewish values and denies the historical claim to our Land.

This blog consists of 2 parts – both make the case that Chanukah is a time of reflection, a time to explore why having a strong Jewish identity is more than Chanukah parties and eating Sufganiyot. The Chanukiah is lit in the home. This seems strange when considering the historical story. This is explored in part 2.

Part 1 – universalism vs particularism

In reading the latest edition HaMizrachi, i was blown away when I learned why the word Mizrachi was chosen as the name of the religious Zionist organisation in 1902. The Mizrachi movement was formed to create and highlight the religious importance of the Zionism movement. While, Mizrachi fought hard to bring in our Jewish historical religious calling into the Zionism and Israel story. The success of their endeavours is highlighted that mainstream Israeli today is traditional and religious.

With this said, there are challenges by extremists, and the challenges of within and without, These challenges are both national and personal.

Let us go back to see what Mizrachi comprises – Merkaz Ruchani – Centre of Spirituality.

And this is the challenge and message of Chanukah. To find the balance – our centre of spirituality.

Today, Chanukah has a universal message. But, we tend to overlook that that was a battle of Hellenisation – western values, secularism vs religious moral covenant. Essentially, two different systems either competing or working together for a greater good. This tension still exists today.

In essence, we have the debate of universalism vs particularism. Can Judaism be both? Can we embrace both? Can we embrace and take the best of the secular world and still have a strong Jewish identity?

We live in a world where Israel, Zionism our historical claim to our land is under attack. This is under attack by lies, revision of history, and our enemies within and without.

Just, take the case of President Herzog lighting the first night of Candles in Hebron. In a beautiful piece of writing, the Jerusalem Post wrote about this.

“Herzog decided he wanted to light the first Hanukkah candle at a site that more than any other site represents the Jewish historical claim to Israel. To highlight that at a time when many are trying to paint the Jews in Israel – any part of Israel – as outside interlopers and settler colonialists is to be welcomed, not protested.”

Prime Minister Bennet in a video highlighted that Israel is the modern Maccabees.“Israel is proof that freedom can prevail over tyranny, hope can prevail over despair, and light can prevail over darkness. A bit of light dispels much darkness, and our light will never extinguish. Happy Hanukkah to all of you,” he concluded.

In our world of social media, distortion of morals, and blatant lies, we the Jewish people, the state, and the people of Israel have a tremendous responsibility of being a light to the Nations. The Torah, the truth shall go out of Jerusalem.

There is much-needed repair – Tikkun Olam to do.

Whether it be in social justice, helping to fix the imbalances of world poverty, Improving health through innovation, and most importantly providing a moral compass and the sharing of eternal truths.

Part 2 – Let’s have a deeper look at Chanukah

Sivan Rahav Meir in her weekly shiur talks about how Chanukah is not just about children, gan Chanukah parties, donuts, candles, and halachot. If we just focus on this, then we are missing the plot.

We need to look at the historical story of Chanukah. It started as a rebellion at the oppressive regime of  Syrian-Greek governments who outlawed religious and personal freedom.

It is was a grassroots revolt for religious and personal Freedom

This battle of Government vs the individual has been going on since eternity and we see this battle around the Covid restrictions.

If I left the discussion at this level, I would not be doing justice to the message of Chanukah and Judaism.

We have the halacha of adding light, pirsuma (publicising), and spreading the light of Chanukah. Spread the light on a dark.

The mitzvot of Chanukah is at home and not the Chabad public lightings.

We can only influence with a strong foundation in the home. This is the place where our values are molded. Start with yourself and your family.

Tikkun Olam starts with repairing yourself.

Covid forced us to be home, and focus on family. Unfortunately, we already have forgotten this message as we return to the new normal.

Today, we have the battle of values – the universal moral message of Judaism vs the world of liberalism on social media, and new secularism which itself is a religion

With all due respect to there is a distortion of the roles of men and women. We are equal, but we are different.

Yes, we will still have separate sports as physically man and women are built differently.

So, even though the term batsman has been replaced with the batter, you can not change the facts on the ground.

So, the battle of today is preserving the institution of marriage – the family unit and a proven model of bringing successful people into the world.

There is also a battle to rewrite history – especially when it comes to the Jews’ historical connection to the Land. There is a battle to inverse good and evil and accuse the Jews of being evil – racist, practicing genocide, or apartheid. This is such a distruth, Maybe, by attacking Israel and the Jews, mankind feels that it can justify or hide their barbaric past, despicable behaviours of the past – crusades, holy wars,  Holocaust, wars for economic purposes, raping of countries in the name colonialism. This too is a message of Chanukah – another striving for the truth.

Another universal theme today is mindfulness.

We have meditation, being in the moment, and taking time out from the weekly pressure of work. We subscribe to the Daily Calm App. Yesterday, our nice Jewish host Tamara Levitt spoke about a regular time out. She tried to give examples from some cultures. God forbid she would talk about Shabbat – the oldest, most successful mindfulness – in the moment experience the world has ever known.

So, let us call a spade

Man is Man

Woman is Women

Shabbat is Shabbat

In the new secular religion, we give thanks to the Universe. We Jews give thanks to the creator of the world – God.

Let’s be this is the real message of Chanukah. Moral clarity and Truth.

To light up the truth in a world of Evil and lies.

In conclusion, I want to share these words from Rabbi Doron Peretz head of Mizrachi

“At the core of this trailblazing path is an unswerving belief in the immeasurable value of the Jewish people as a whole and the necessity of collaboration and partnership with other groups within our nation. It is an authentic commitment to loving our fellow Jews, developing camaraderie, and an attitude of mutual responsibility. Once deep common bonds are established, we can and must make the effort to shape a combined destiny. The values of our Torah are the essence of our existence, the soul of our collective body, our spiritual center. The Land and the State of Israel are an inextricable part of our destiny. With a deep and unshakable belief in a common journey that must be traveled together, we can overcome any challenge, however large. Seemingly irreparable ideological differences can be reconciled along a common path.

With dedication and creativity, we must somehow find a way to retain our authenticity, independence and integrity while being committed to our collective national mission. This has been our Mizrachi mission for our first 120 years and one we remain deeply committed to today.”

About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and seven grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
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