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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Israel Ride 2012 – A Chanukah Perspective

Posted by rabbiart on November 9, 2012

(These thoughts are scheduled to appear in the Chanukah/December issue of our shul bulletin.)

According to rabbinic interpretation the essence of our holiday is not a military victory. It is a spiritual reawakening and a renewed dedication to the ideals of our tradition. The key celebration is to light the Chanukah lights near a window in order to publicize the miracle. This is so that all who see the candles will be strengthened in the belief that, yes, miracles can and do happen.

I thought about this a great deal while cycling with 60 friends, some new some old, as I cycled two days in northern Israel and three days in the Negev on our way to Eilat. On the first day twenty of us missed a turn and became the new Lost Tribe, as we were dubbed by the forty who apparently know how to follow directions!

All along the way we were supported – and inspired – by a mixed group of Israelis, Jordanians, Palestinians and Palestinian Israelis; students and alumni of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. All of them live not in tolerance but in harmony, friendship and with affection. And without fear of the other. They would not describe themselves this way but to me they are living candles whose light does not go out after the required thirty minutes of burning.

Jewish life in our time is in need of miracles, spiritual awakening and the restoration of the highest ideals of the Torah and prophetic literature. In the southern Negev I have personally witnessed a living breathing Chanukiah and made friends with some of the candles. One of my new friends – Abeer Abora, a young Palestinian woman from the West Bank – has invited us to visit her village when Carol and I go for the Arava ride next year, not to score political points but simply, as she put it, to see with our own eyes, to see her and to see her family as human beings, nothing more and certainly nothing less. Look for her on Facebook and friend her. Mention that you are a friend of mine and light a new Chanukah candle of your own.

The next time you go to Israel let me know and I will hook you up with Abeer, or Baraa or Amer or Hadas, Hila or the staff of this amazing institution where the environment is being healed, the power of the sun being harnessed, biblical agriculture reawakened and (hamavin yavin) healthier facts on the ground are being planted.

Be a Maccabi. Make a new Chanukah and fulfill the blessing wherein we praise and thank the one God of all the earth for not only performing miracles in those days of old but speedily and in our day.

And of course, register for the ride at Israel Bike Ride.

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