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Be the light

Rabbi Micah Streiffer

 

Hanna Szenes was a Hungarian-Jewish poet and soldier who is most famous for her poem Eli Eli (“My God, My God, I pray that these things never end”).

 

Her second most widely known poem is called “Blessed is the Match.” It says:

 

Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.

Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart's secret places.

Blessed is the heart that knows, for honor’s sake, to stop its beating.

Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.

 

This poem is about self-sacrifice, the ways that we humans sometimes have to give of ourselves in order to provide life for others. Actually, she was talking about martyrdom. Szenes understood the meaning of these words first hand: as a Hungarian Jew, she immigrated to Palestine just at the beginning of World War II. She then volunteered as a paratrooper to be dropped back behind enemy lines to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews. There – only weeks after writing this poem - she was captured, arrested, tortured, and executed.

 

Fortunately, few of us are called upon to make this ultimate sacrifice for others, but Szenes’s main point is that when the world is dark, we are called upon to bring light into it. The “match” is the catalyst for creating goodness where previously there was none.

 

During this cold, dark time of year, we celebrate Chanukah with light. There is much darkness in our society as well: poverty, homelessness, hatred. It is our responsibility to do what we can to alleviate it; to be the light in the darkness.

 

Please consider participating in our Grade 7 mitzvah project by donating unopened toiletries, non-perishable foods, and other supplies to create “Blessing Bags” for those in need. (Call the school or check our Facebook page for more information about what is needed.)

 

I would urge you, as well, to consider committing a night of your family Chanukah celebration to volunteering or buying gifts for families in need.

 

We have the capacity to do so much, to bring so much light into a dark world. This holiday season let us commit ourselves to giving to others, so that we might make the world a little brighter.

 

Blessed is the match.

 

L’Shalom,

Rabbi Streiffer

Wed, January 23 2019 17 Sh'vat 5779