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Chanukah candles at the hospital

Friday, 30 November, 2012 - 1:20 pm

Allow me to share something that happened this week. My son Levi (5) had to have a hernia repair operation. First thing Wednesday morning we went down to UC Davis. (I should mention the staff at the hospital were amazing!)

Levi’s surgeon is Jewish so I suggested to him that we take a box of Chanukah candles to give to her. He was very excited about this idea and was particularly concerned to ensure that she received her candles. With all the nurses who came to check on him and ensure everything was under control, he was happy when his surgeon finally came and was pleased that he was able to give her the candles and wish her a “Happy Chanukah!”

After the surgery, just as the anesthetic was beginning to wear off, Levi sat up in his bed and asked the nurses for the drink of apple juice they had promised. He took the cold apple juice and proceeded – to the amazement of the nurses - to make the proper blessing that is said prior to drink

What is the “theology” behind this behavior?

Without doubt the most famous Jewish prayer is the Shema. The first line of the Shema reads: Sh'ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad (Hear O Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One – Deut. 6:4). The continuation of the prayer then includes some of Judaism’s basic messages: Love G-d, study Torah, reward and punishment and our exodus from Egypt. (Click here for the full text). This special prayer is biblically mandated to be recited at least twice daily, first thing in the morning and before we go to sleep at night.

In Hebrew, the word used here for “one” is “echad,” which means one, but in the context of many (i.e. the first of many: one, two, three etc). Perhaps a more appropriate word would have been “yachid” which means singular? After all, isn’t “the one and only” G-d a Singular entity in this world to which nothing can compare? Why use the term “echad,” oneone which implies the potential for plurality?

The Torah is teaching us a profound message: even within the apparent plurality of creation, “G-d is one” – absolute Oneness. This idea would not have been communicated had the Torah used the word “yachid” (Singular) because that would have implied that G-d is transcendent and separate from creation.

We begin and end each day with this recognition that the world and all that we experience is truly one with G-d. Knowing this enables us to experience life in an entirely new light, with a new perspective, and empowers us to make decisions that are in line with the Torah’s standards.

So whether you are going in for surgery or just going about your daily business, your center and focus is always the same.

Comments on: Chanukah candles at the hospital
12/7/2012

Reyna Greenfield wrote...

Your son Levi is a brave boy!

Shabbat Shalom,
Reyna Greenfield
1/5/2013

Joko wrote...

Rabbi,It is nice to have you back and posting again. I see that you peefrr Yarmulke instead of Kippah. This is classic Jewishness . Same thing called by different names and both are spelled in an odd way. Same for Hannukah, Hanukah, Channukah, Chanukah, Hanukka, Channuka or the several other ways it is typed. This on the one hand, on the other hand syndrome we have fallen into is quite the connundrum. An then we have words like Shalom that mean 3 different things.As for your message and focus of the post Yashir Koach!Chag Samayach and Happy Latkes (or is it Latka?)