The world is a dark place, at times a darker place than most of us realize or want to acknowledge. The recent and irresponsible “Wiki leaks” posting of classified diplomatic cables reminds me of this.
National security is maintained through difficult means, by espionage and covert operations, by assessments of others and misinformation. It is stuff that makes for good novels and exciting movies. I’m not naïve about any of this, yet seeing it displayed in real terms is disconcerting.
Early on the Torah offers this assessment of humanity. “The devisings of the human mind are evil from youth.” Acknowledging this aspect of human nature, Jewish tradition and religious practice urge us to control our baser instincts, to strive for goodness in both deed and word.
All of us say things in private about others. All of us evaluate people we meet, colleagues with whom we work, or individuals who play some role in our lives. We just never expect our private musings, and even our personal judgments, to become public, to be known by the subject of our gossip and opinion.
I empathize with those who are embarrassed by some of what the “Wiki leaks” revelations share about their private views of others. None of us wants to be in that situation. But every one of us could be, hurting others and creating distance between people, depending on what we say to whom, and whether or not they honor our trust.
Fortunately, this week we have the chance to elevate ourselves remembering our ideals and better aspirations. This Hanukkah week we bring light into our sometimes dark world.
Hanukkah’s light represents our faith and ideals, our hopes and our gratitude. On Hanukkah we celebrate Jewish identity and religious values. We remember the Second Temple’s rededication in Jerusalem in 165 BCE to honor our religious heritage recalling our ancestors’ dedication to it.
One quaint custom teaches that while the Hanukkah lights are burning we are not to work or perform household chores. We’re also supposed to be careful with our words. Hanukkah’s light reflects holiness and goodness. Each night we increase that light, hoping to shine as much of it as we can into the world.
In the world of international relations, I imagine some diplomats may be less candid with each other, at least for a while. In our homes and community, as we enjoy Hanukkah’s lights with our families and friends maybe we should be, too. This holiday, let’s celebrate about our loved ones and demonstrate to others the light of our love and respect.
Hag Urim Sameah! Happy Hanukkah!