Saturday, December 08, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Miketz/Shabbat Chanukkah (A mighty flame of one)

One of my favorite Hanukkah songs, Banu Choshech Legaresh, which was used by Israeli hip-hop group Subliminal in a song of the same name, there is a lyric: Kol echad hu ohr katan, Ve kulanu ohr eitan. Every individual is a tiny light but together we are a mighty light. Thus is true with a multiwicked candle versus a regular candle, while a Shabbat candle is a relatively tiny light, a Havdalah candle could be considered a medura, a bonfire, a very mighty light.

However we see that in the story of Hanukkah as well as this week's Torah portion that the ohr katan, the small tiny light can make just as much of a difference. Joseph single-handedly saved the world. The tiny group of Maccabees quelled the Hellenists and the Greek-Assyrians and ensured the survival of the Jewish way of life.

Maybe you're not a Joseph or a Judah (Joseph's brother) or a Judas Maccabeus, but I feel that everyone can make a difference. As a political scientist I know that there is a very real collective-action problem within society. "Can't someone else do it" becomes a rallying cry. Remember the 2000 presidential election. States were won with a handful of votes. Yet voting
rates are at an all-time low. Remember that 300 Spartans tried to defend themselves against millions of Persians. The point is that anyone really has the potential to do anything, and if not, has the prerogative to mobilize.

Additionally one can rally others and reinforce that tiny but powerful light and add wicks to become a mighty flame. Additionally, wildfires tend to start with a tiny spark. So don't feel that you are unable to make a difference in the world. You can be a mighty flame on your own.

Shabbat Shalom and a freilichin un a lichtikin Hanukkah.

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