The candles of Ḥanukkah provide an optimal object for visual meditation. As taught in the passages below, we are invited to gaze into their flames and to see the light of infinite potential. Our ancient tradition teaches that this light, the Or HaGanuz, is the hidden light of creation, consciousness, healing and redemption (see Genesis Rabbah 11:2, Niddah 30b and Ḥagigah 12a).
The Ḥasidic Master and Kabbalist, R’ Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov (1783 – 1841) often draws upon earlier mystical teachings in his classic work Bnei Yissascher. In the teaching below, he writes that Ḥanukkah is an opportunity to train ourselves to see and appreciate as much as of this light as we are able. See R’ Tsvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov’s kavvanah for kindling the Ḥanukkah lights. –Aharon Varady
As we light and gaze at one more candle each day, we increase our capacity to see, appreciate and channel its infinite goodness, hope and creativity.
Gazing at the candles themselves is a profound practice, but they are not essential for us to do this work. The practice instructions below offer guidance for how to visualize this light in our mind’s eye. In the Kabbalah Through the Calendar course we explore this subject in depth.
|Source (Hebrew)||Translation (English)|
בראשית רבה יא:ב
Midrash Genesis Rabbah 11:2
אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר רַבִּי סִימוֹן
אוֹר שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּ הוּא בְּיוֹם רִאשׁוֹן
אָדָם צוֹפֶה וּמַבִּיט בּוֹ
מִסּוֹף הָעוֹלָם וְעַד סוֹפוֹ
R’ Yehudah bar R’ Simōn said:
The light which the blessed Holy One, created on the first day —
Adam could see with it
from one end of the universe to the other.
בני יששכר על כסלו וטבת ב:ח
Bnei Yissascher on Kislev and Tevet 2:8
קראו לימים האלה חנוכה
שהוא חינוך והרגל על לעתיד גאולה העתידה
שאז יתגלה לנו האור הגנוז בשלימות
וגנזו לצדיקים לעתיד לבא (חגיגה יב א׳)
These days are called Ḥanukkah,
meaning dedication and training for the future redemption
when the Hidden Light will be completely revealed to us.
As our sages say,
“It was hidden for the righteous of future times”
Practice Instructions for Ḥanukkah Visualization
• Decide how long you want to practice for.
If you’re new to this, try five minutes.
• Sit quietly
in a comfortable position,
with the spine upright,
and the body balanced between relaxation and alertness.
Close your eyes and let out a few yawns or sighs to relax your body.
• Now just sit,
not trying to change or do anything,
except observe whatever arises in your body and mind –
thoughts, feelings, whatever comes.
• After a minute or two,
set your intention to visualize the Ḥanukkah lights in front of you.
Their flames are radiating a light of pure love, hope and awareness.
• When you are ready,
visualize this light going wherever you like.
Let it enter, heal, inspire and uplift yourself
• Let this light of love, hope and awareness spread
to people you know and others,
all around the world.
Eventually, let it spread to all beings, everywhere.
• When physical sensations, feelings, thoughts or other distractions come,
don’t try to fight them.
Gently let them go and return your attention,
• When it is time to bring your practice to a close,
slowly open your eyes and gently let your body move however it wants to.
What is arising for you in this moment?
Is there anything that is asking to be expressed in any way?
Download Hanukkah-Visualization-on-Infinite-Light-Applied-Jewish-Spirituality-Rabbi-Daniel-Silvverstein-2019.pdf (PDF, 58KB)
|1||See R’ Tsvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov’s kavvanah for kindling the Ḥanukkah lights. –Aharon Varady|
“Ḥanukkah Visualization on Infinite Light, by Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
כַּוָּנָה לְהַדְלָקַת נֵרוֹת חֲנֻכָּה | Kavvanah for Ḥanukkiah Lighting by Bonna Devora Haberman, z”l (Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism, 2002)
תפילה ליום הודו על חנוכּה | Prayer for when Thanksgiving Day falls during Ḥanukkah, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
תפילה לראש חודש טבת ותקופת החורף על חנוכּה | Prayer for the new moon of Tevet on Ḥanukkah occurring on the winter solstice, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
תפילה לחודש כסלו עד סוף חנוכה | Prayer for the month of Kislev through the end of Ḥanukkah (from Isaiah 60), by Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman
בָּאנוּ חׇשֵׁךְ לְקַדֵּשׁ | Banu Ḥoshekh l’Ḳadesh (We come to sanctify the dark), by rabbis David Seidenberg and Jill Hammer
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