This is a case of a young man of humble origins who suddenly and unexpectedly becomes the first king of the Israelites. His first coronation is done privately and God’s spirit comes upon him as he needs to immediately step into his new national role for which he does not receive a set of instructions, nor does he have role models; he is the first one and he starts his role as king with God’s spirit upon him. It seems to be a promising and fortuitous beginning but it does not last. As a result of his sin of which he says, “I have transgressed the word of God and your word because I feared the people,” he is being punished.
We light the second candle of Hanukkah at a local senior independent living community with our elders, who were the pillar of their community, who built schools and synagogues, fed the hungry, clothed the needy, and practiced the mitzvah of Tzedakah.
These women and men are a community of immigrants, Holocaust survivors, American born citizens who served their country and promoted freedom and justice. They are a source of strength in our life. They are people of vision, compassion, courage and hope and the light that makes America live up to its promise.
My Hanukkah celebration began today with my email filled with wishes for a Happy Hanukkah from people of different faith communities and from secular friends; some came by the house, like my friends Sam and Jim who came over with a gift, an uplifting card and the brightest warmth of friendship. Each of our friends, far and near, is a light in our Menorah. For all of us our connections with one another are the light we bring to the festival. Our bonds and common humanity are the firm light we have as we face fears and violence. Across differences we affirm our shared humanity and we know that our connections and coming together are the candles that we light on Hanukkah. On our first night as we light the Menorah we remember that Hanukkah is a festival of freedom and light.