Lighting up the dark
Lighting up the darkStudio

“…I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills

‘Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky

What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above

Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides

Can I handles the seasons of my life…

…Oh-oh , climb a mountain and you turn around

And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills

Well, the landslide bring it down…”(Landslide, Fleetwood Mac)

Outside my window, darkness has settled upon the city, a blackness which is almost tangible in its heaviness. A vague outline of dark clouds may be seen in the sky, the usual sparkle of stars absent from view. From my perch at the window, the heavy darkness is broken only by the solitary lights of street lamps, and by the glow of light from windows of homes which, like mine, have been plunged into the early darkness of winter’s eve. Is it only 5:30 in the evening?

We are now in the month of Kislev. The month of darkness, the month of sleep. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, makes me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8)

Kislev is the month in which light is hidden behind shadows, overcome by darkness, a glimmer waiting to shine forth.

It is the month of dreams and dreaming. The ninth month of the year, it is symbolized by amethyst, the ninth precious stone on the breastplate of the high priest. The word amethyst in Hebrew (‘achlama'), shares the same root as the word dream (‘chalam’). “Whoever wears one on one’s finger will very likely see dreams.” (the Radak, Book of Hebrew Roots)

In the weekly Torah portions read during the month of Kislev, we read of nine different dreams.

Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending. Joseph dreams of rising to power, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bow before him. Joseph’s fellow prisoner have dreams of their fate. Pharaoh dreams of years of plenty followed by years of famine.

“In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then He opens the ears of men, and by their chastisement seals the decree.” (Job 33:15-16)

Does a dream reveal a prophecy? Or is the prophecy inherent in its interpretation? What causes a dream to come true?

The month of Kislev began with a narrative of fate. In the first parsha of the month we read of the blessings given by Isaac to his two sons.

Jacob received the blessing that seemingly was meant for Esau, the blessing of the firstborn.

And so we may ask, what determines the path of our life? Our own nature? Divine destiny? Was it impulsiveness, momentary temptation, or a predetermined fate that led Esau to sell his birthright to Jacob?

Destiny and personal nature intertwine, one’s fate and one’s choices in life are interwoven. Do we direct the course of our life, or is our life directing us? We are each guided by our own nature, our choices in life directed by an internal compass. But as we see in the words of Jacob to his sons, and in Esau’s insistence upon receiving a blessing, there is a blessing in store for each of us.

Perhaps it is not only while awake, but also while asleep, that the course of our lives is determined. Sleep is a time in which our soul realigns with our divine destiny. Our desires, aspirations revealed and redirected, our goals reaffirmed, our lives blessed as we peacefully slumber. “I am asleep yet my heart is awake; It is the voice of My Beloved! He knocks, saying, ‘Open for Me…’ “(Song of Songs 5:2)

While we sleep, we receive the blessings which will grace our path at dawn.

As well as being at times prophetic, our dreams reflect our deepest desires.

“On my bed at night, I sought him whom my soul loves” (Song of Songs 3:1)

As we sleep, our soul whispers to us its secrets, expresses in our dreams the desires of our hearts. In the darkness of night, our soul prepares for the light of morning, and as we dream, so may we become.

It is in Kislev, the month of sleep, that the light within us is nurtured, treasured. For Kislev is the month of contrasts. It is the month of darkness, of black nights. But it is also the month of light, of brightness, of white snowy days.

Snow blankets the hills. A panorama of white against a bright blue sky. The children are laughing with delight as they tumble into the soft enchanting fluffs of deep snow. A young girl looks at her mitten, delicate sprinkles of white on a background of black, as a light snow gently falls. ”Look at this!” she marvels in wonderment at seeing her first snowfalll. “I never knew snow began as such tiny snowflakes!”

It is the month of Hanukkah, and we are reminded.

Each candle, though lit by the same source, will burn differently, according to its nature. As we, each unique in our nature, in our paths, in the lives we will lead.

The creation of the world occurred in seven days. The eighth day was the first day after creation. According to the Zohar, the number eight symbolizes new beginnings. Each night of Hanukkah we will light an additional candle, until the last night in which we will light eight. And light will sparkle on new beginnings. For we, as Man, can influence our flame.

What is our destiny, what is our legacy?

What will be the reflection seen one day in the snow-covered hills?

As we light the candles on Hanukkah, may their light reflect the light which is within each of us, shining upon the paths of our future.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

May our dreams be worthy of fulfillment.

Dr. Devorah Ungaris an American-born scientist and musician.who moved to Israel 30 years ago.