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Don't Change
by Rabbi Yossi Braun
Question:
 
Every occasion on the Jewish calendar is another spiritual disappointment for me. I am always aware of my shortcomings and I really try to change and become different. Yet, afterwards I remain the same as before.

Chanukah, should be an inspiration for me to "banish the darkness" from my soul. But, while for most people Chanukah will end on a high note, for me personally -I'm bothered that it's about to conclude with no apparent change in my spiritual behaviour?
What do you advise?
 
Answer:
 
It's very refreshing to see that there are individuals out there whose inspirations and disappointments revolve around spirituality. Although you might be distressed, but, truth to be told, your disappointments are - how do I put it - a source of inspiration for all of us.
 
Having said that, I know that you're finding change very difficult, but I strongly recommend that you make one small change in your behaviour: stay put and don't change! You see, all your problems stem from one primary cause - your inspiration to become different. Stop being inspired and you won't have any more disappointment.
 
No, I'm not kidding. Look at the message of Chanukah. Chanukah commemorates the miracle that occurred with the candles lit on the Menorah in the Temple, where a small container of olive oil-expected to be enough for only one day- miraculously lasted for eight days.
 
Yet, the way we light our candles on Chanukah differs so significantly from the Menora lighting in the Temple. Whereas the Menorah was lit during the day, we light the Chanukah candles after sunset. The Menorah was situated indoors, in the heichal (the main sanctuary), yet Chanukah candles ought to be lit outdoors, "in the public domain" (though, in today's day and age, many have adopted the custom to light the candles in the home). And, finally, the Menorah was located on the southern, or right, side of the Temple, while the Chanukah candles are always placed on the left side of the door (opposite the mezuzah).
 
Chanukah teaches us that the night and the darkness contain no less brightness than the day. Now, the Temple Menorah illuminates the darkness too - it was lit in the daytime, but burned throughout the night -but the light was projected from an external source, from the day into the night. Chanukah sees the light which is inherent within the darkness itself. The left side, normally associated with negativity and iniquity, is transformed on Chanukah to become the source of light. And the street, which seems to be outside of the domain of G-dliness,has the ability to shine as bright as the inner sanctuary of the holy Temple.
 
A Chassidic story always sheds some light on the matter: The Baal Shem Tov loved light. On one occasion, his disciples could not obtain more than a single candle. The Baal Shem Tov instructed his disciples to go outside and collect the icicles that hung from the roof, arrange the 'ice candles' around the room and light them. The ice burned like wax, flooding the room with light.
 
The Baal Shem tov maintained that everything, even mundane activities, should be used as a launching pad for growth. For the Baal Shem Tov, even ice or chilliness can inspire and yield light just like warmth or oil.  
 
You want to become different and transcend your limitations. But, you wouldn't consider taking mind-altering substances. Why? Because they are an escape from reality. It takes courage to become who you really are.
 
Scrap the idea of "banishing the darkness from your soul".  It's time to use out the darkness as a catalyst for growth.  Here is my suggestion: seek out opportunities to find the goodness inherent within your soul. All your shortcomings might actually be the springboard for future growth.
 

 


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