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In our daily prayers we remind ourselves each morning that God is “yotzer or uvorei hoshech” – both the “fashioner of light” and the “creator of darkness”. In the Kabbalistic understanding of the four worlds, “beriyah” – “creation” is a level above “yetzirah” – “fashioning”. What makes darkness transcend light? One explanation is that the “darkness” God creates is actually light, but a powerful light that is so dazzling that it blinds our eyes with its brilliance. We experience a little of this when we look at the sun, so bright it leaves us temporarily sightless. When one considers the dazzling brilliance of the Enlightenment – la Lumière – and the advances that a more scientific and liberal approach to religion have brought us in the last two hundred years, it becomes clear that this may have been too overwhelming, too glaringly splendid for some. And it is in this spirit that we can understand the dimness of the recent words of an unenlightened and extremist member of the Israeli Parliament. So this Chanukah, may my liberal coreligionists continue to shine brightly in Israel and in our communities around Europe and across the world.

Rabbi Nathan Alfred


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