Light and the spirit of God
Yet, the story is not sordid or hopeless. While the menorah shines as this pristine symbol of God’s presence, sometimes reflecting our inadequacies and failings, it also symbolises the light that both guides and attracts us. It is this image of light that inspires Zechariah, one of the final prophets of the Jewish people, who lived after the destruction of the First Temple and envisioned with hope the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple. His prophetic words, “not by might, nor by power, but by the spirit of God” become a touchstone of transformation. They hark back to Moses’ words in this parasha, “would that all my people be prophets.” In other words, the resolution of conflict does not come through aggression and violence.
Over 3000 years have passed since the time of Moses and 2500 since the time of Zechariah. Our world still seems to be one of complaint, aggression and violence. Neither Moses nor Zechariah intended their teachings to be pious platitudes. Sadly, we seem to come back to them, year after year, and the world seems as fractured as before. If each of us just once takes that moment of reflection before thought or deed – that step back from the harsh word or the aggressive action, the words of our prophets will not have been in vain. The global aggression that seems to surround us may continue for sometime – but it should not inhibit us from transforming our own personal lives. The charge, “not by might, nor by power, but by the spirit of God” can be a daily meditation, an opening for our hearts, the light that guides and attracts us.