We have just lived through the most wonderful month of Tishrei, having experienced an intense opportunity for connection to Hashem, as we rode the successive waves of the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. And then, one week later, we fell upon the month of Cheshvan, a “bitter month”, devoid of any holiday at all – a time when the natural state of the world is one of distance from spiritual light: the polar opposite of Tishrei! Having been on such a high, why doesn’t Judaism give us a month that helps us continue this uplifted energy that we have?
Being the first month with a Rosh Chodesh (in Tishrei, the first days were Rosh Hashanah), Cheshvan sets the tone for the year by reminding us to take the joy, the spirituality, the connection to Hashem and to family, the deep connection within ourselves to our souls, and wrap them up and put those “gifts” in our pockets.
Cheshvan is a time when our connection to spirituality is hidden. A time meant specifically to tap into the inspiration of Tishrei and use it in the deeper personal work that is necessary when there is no outside inspiration. Hashem is giving us the opportunity to create that vehicle for His transcendent light to appear through human efforts. It is ours for the whole year and, as we get back into the routine of life, His spiritual gifts enable us to find beauty and joy in life’s difficult and bitter moments.
We can now see that the three months, ie. Tishrei, Cheshvan and Kislev constitute a period of time which is
about developing our relationship with Hashem, starting with the moment of inspiration, continuing through a more difficult period which depends on our investment, then culminating with the fruits of that determination being revealed as the eight nights of light that shine forth through the darkness. Chanukah is a means of celebrating the impenetrable spirit and devotion to Hashem and to His faithfulness by keeping that candle alight for eight days.
The heightened spirituality which radiated throughout Yad Aharon & Michael from the beginning of Elul was palpable, as was the undisputed presence of Hashem’s radiance in our midst and, the closer we got to Tishrei, the more intense was the inspiration and awesomeness of the looming High Holy Days! Our fever-pitch efforts to raise the funds needed to provid
e bumper Yom Tov hampers to the needy were more than richly rewarded, thanks to the community’s understanding and appreciation of the priceless value of our work (after all, how does one quantify the meaning of enabling 600 families to celebrate Yom Tov with full pantries, tummies and hearts?).
5-day weeks and getting back to our regular schedule, slipping into a depressed state was never an option, with our first post-Chagim distribution taking place on the very next Tuesday! Food is an on-going and indispensable requirement and, as the largest distributor of food parcels in the community, we take our sole mandate (ensuring the nutritional security of the needy) very much to heart. Our abundant gratitude and ample reserves of spiritual connection to Hashem enables us to dispel the darkness of Cheshvan and, with a prayer on our lips and faith in our hearts, we humbly embrace the challenges which form part of the awesome responsibility which rests on our shoulders.
What messages can we glean from the flickering Chanukah flames? This Festival is unique
in that its primary mitzvah is observed in public. It’s not enough to be a Jew at heart, or even at home. Chanukah teaches us to shine outwards into our surroundings with the G‑dly glow of mitzvahs, a principle which resonates so perfectly with Yad’s modus operandi. A little light goes a long way and, no matter how dark it is outside, a candle of G‑dly goodness can transform the darkness itself into light. Therein lies the message to our clients: through our food hampers, our love, unconditional acceptance and dedication, Yad provides that light, that sense of support and hope that we are there for them during their darkest and most difficult times.
Chag Chanukah Sameach and a relaxing and safe December break to one and all!
BY ALICE FRIEDMAN
MANAGING DIRECTOR – YAD AHARON & MICHAEL