Hanukah and the Lesson of Water

Hanukkah conceptOnce we were discussing the properties of water at the Shabbat table.

As water is heated – it expands. When it cools – it contracts (becomes smaller) – becoming more dense.

If that was so, I was left with the question – why does water in a bottle break the container when placed in the freezer?

Kindness is in the Water

My friend explained to me an interesting characteristic of water. When you boil it – it expands, but when you cool it it contracts. But there’s a certain point in which water, when cooled begins to to expand. This causes ice to be less dense than water and thus ice floats. (Things that are denser than water sink – things that are less dense than water float.)

This is an important principle for the survival of the world. If water would become more dense as ice then the bottom of the lakes, rivers and oceans would freeze before the top. This would cause plants, coral and living things like fish on the bottom of the ocean to die. This would upset that ecosystem of the world.

There is a verse to help us understand the nature of the world – “The world is built with kindness.” Ice is one example.

Greek Philosophy vs. Torah

Some – like the Greek philosophers of old – would see this as pure coincidence. The Jewish view from Torah is – it is no doubt that this physical property of water is a kindness that Hash-m (G-d) has ingrained into nature.

The Menorah – Torah is Center of Knowledge

The menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem had seven stems. The center stem and three stems on each side. The Netziv in his sefer Emek HaDavar explains that each of the flames of the menorah represents an aspect of knowledge: psychology, philosophy, mathematics, language, science. The flame in the center represents the Torah. Each flame points towards the center flame.

Apparently one of the lessons is that if knowledge is used in congruence with Torah, an accurate picture of the world is produced. If not all sorts of falsity creep in.

Lesson of Hanukah

This is the lesson of Hanukkah.

The Greeks wanted us to believe that what you see is what you get. They said there is nothing beyond the physical or aesthetic beauty of the world.

Purpose of the Physical

The Torah teaches us that the physical is here for us to reach higher spiritual levels. We eat and enjoy ourselves on Shabbat to become closer to Hash-m.

The physical is not an end in itself. The physical is here to help us establish a greater connection with our Creator.

The light of the Torah, represented by the Menorah, illuminates our vision of the world.

An Added Dimension in Life – Spirituality through Torah

Looking beyond the mere physical not only applies to understanding nature but also regarding the our relations with others. When a person sees relationship just for the physical – “this person makes me feel good” – it is reducing a relationship to just physicality. But when one takes into consideration when deciding on a mate, the spiritual aspects – like how they will help you become a greater person, become closer to Hash-m, how you will be able to reach higher spiritual heights in Torah through a relationship – this is when a person can really reach their potential.

The Jewish outlook is to look beyond materialism when choosing a life mate. We look also at their potential for helping us to reach higher spiritual heights together as a couple and as a family through Torah.

Happy Hanukah!

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