March 5, 2014
Netanyahu's inaction to Obama's provocations sends powerful message
Kerry, after apparent criticism by Schumer, seeks to allay skepticism on diplomacy
How to ruin a perfectly good kid in 10 simple steps
2014 Oscars played it safe, but was faith lost in the shuffle?
Apple joins Hobby Lobby in touting corporate values beyond profit
March 3, 2014
Alina Dain Sharon: In the Hebrew calendar, a leap year has extra month, not day
Latest Obama appointment to prove Prez set on emasculating so-called Israel Lobby
Jewish World Review
Dec. 23, 2003
/ 28 Kislev, 5764
Lighting our way to the palace of the king
Rabbi Yonason Goldson
There is a story of a prince, a true prodigal son, whose antics and
excesses taxed his father's patience until the king, with no other recourse,
sent his son penniless into exile to learn responsibility and humility.
The prince wandered from place to place, half-starving, unqualified for any
craft or labor, until he finally found work as a shepherd in a distant land.
The job of shepherding was not overly difficult, but the sun burned the
prince's back by day, the wind froze him at night, and the rain soaked
through his clothes in winter.
Other shepherds built little huts to protect
them from the elements, but whenever the poor prince tried to build himself
a hut it toppled over in the first strong breeze.
Years went by, until at last the prince heard that the king was coming to
the province where he lived. There was a custom in the kingdom that people
would write their wishes upon scraps of paper and throw them at the king's
carriage. Any requests that the king picked up a read would be granted
immediately. So the prince positioned himself along the parade route and,
as the king's carriage passed, he took careful aim and tossed his note.
The paper fell at the king's feet. He unrolled it and, recognizing his
son's handwriting, he began to weep. For the note asked if the king would
give the prince a little hut to protect him from the sun and the wind and
"My son could have asked to return to the palace," cried the king, "but he
no longer knows he is a prince."
So it was in the days of the Maccabees, when the Jewish people were so
steeped in the physical aestheticism and indulgences of Greek culture that
many of them forgot that they were in exile, forgot that they were
inheritors of a priceless spiritual legacy, forgot that they were children
of the King.
But a few didn't forget. A few risked their lives to honor the Sabbath, to
circumcise their sons, to study the Torah of their fathers and grandfathers,
to preserve the divine spark that had guided their ancestors for a thousand
years. And, when their moment came, those few took up arms against their
oppressors and fought for the privilege of living as Jews. They recaptured
the Holy Temple and, as they rekindled the menorah, divine light flooded the
streets and courtyards of Jerusalem, pushing off the darkness of exile,
waking the people from cultural forgetfulness, inspiring a generation to
remember its ancient roots cast its aspirations once more toward the
Today, 2,168 years later, we too live in an age of spiritual darkness, when
the loudest and most persistent voices in our surrounding culture cry out to
expunge every mention of the divine, to condemn every moral judgment, to
sanctify every perversion in the name of "tolerance." We live in an era of
unprecedented material comfort and convenience, tranquilizing our bodies and
our minds so that we can easily stifle the yearning of our souls.
But when the days are shortest and the nights are coldest, just then can a
little light shine forth and dispel much darkness. Like a lighthouse
guiding a ship home, the lights of the Chanukah menorah can draw us back
from the abyss of spiritual oblivion. And as we add candle upon candle and
light upon light, the growing radiance of the menorah reminds us of the
divine flame that has guided us through the darkness of exile and saved us
from the darkness of assimilation for generation after generation.
If we, like the Hellenist Jews, allow the material values of contemporary
culture to shape our thinking and guide our actions, then we have truly
forgotten who we are. Like the prince whose soul longed for nothing but a
little hut to protect him from the sun and the rain, we will be destined to
live out our days in futility.
But if we cling to all that which is noble within us, if the values of
Jewish culture drive us to perform acts of kindness and charity, to devote a
few moments each day to heartfelt and meditative prayer, to treat neighbors
and strangers alike with respect, to set an example of morality and
character for our children then we will have rekindled the spark of
divinity inside us, and we will have earned the privilege to have our
Father, the King, bring us home.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes uplifting articles.
Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School and Aish HaTorah in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.
© 2003, Rabbi Yonason Goldson