Proclaiming what we Believe - Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth
During my trips to the United States, I am often struck by the differences in the two cultures; American and Australian. Oftentimes, there are small subtle differences, such as language, or habits, or portion sizes. One of the more subtle but more visual differences I noticed that while many people in the US will put bumper stickers on their cars, I rarely, if ever, see that here. There are the predictable humorous stickers, the ones extolling the virtues of a child, the ones in support of a political candidate, or the ones that attempt a profound statement. The one thing they have in common is that they are there, in plain vision, for all to see. The owner of the car (and therefore the sticker) wants all to see that particular statement, vision, or political position. They may or may not have put a lot of thought into what that public message is, but there it is nonetheless.
Have you ever thought about, or asked yourself, if you had to put a banner in front of your house, or a button on your chest, or a sticker on your car, a post on your online persona, what value would you want to publicise? Other than funny pictures, links, jokes or new articles, what is something that you would want those around you to know about you? Many of us shy away from sharing that innermost part of us, our spirituality, for fear that we might be seen to be converting someone, or it’s private, or any other number or reasons.
In this interconnected, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter-fied world, where it is easier than ever to post something in the public sphere, it is becoming the norm, expected even, to publicise things about yourself. Chanukah is a holiday that perfectly exemplifies this era, as its one major commandment is פרסומי ניסא, to publicise or advertise the miracle of the candles lasting 8 days. We are commanded to not only light the Chanukiah, but to do it in a place where the public can see it, and also to light it at a time (just before sunset) when there are people likely to be out. We are commanded to share that part of ourselves, to proclaim proudly and publicly, I am Jewish, and I am proud of it!
Because Chanukah does not have a book in the Bible, or a universally accepted message, it is continually reinterpreted, reshaped, and renewed. I believe it is because of this that it has become so popular, in much the same way that Pesach is so popular. (I suppose it also helps that it occurs at roughly the same time as Christmas, giving Jews something to celebrate when our Christian neighbours are celebrating their holiday). We have an opportunity to share of ourselves, to proclaim what we believe, to advertise who we are when we gather together and light the Chanukah Candles.
I wish you all a Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)
and Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth
7 Ocean Street
Woollahra, NSW 2025
p: 02 9389 6444
Parashat Chayei Sarah
Shabbat, November 14, 2020
27th of Cheshvan, 5781
Friday, October 9 7:16PM
Motzei Shabbat 7:53PM
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