Chanukah in Time and Space

I want to share with you my thoughts that were inspired by the Pesikta deRav Kahana, which begins with the Torah parsha for Chanukah. I suggest that the Midrash is relating not only to the Mishkan of Moshe Rabbeinu, but also to the re-dedication of the Beis HaMikdosh at the time of the Chashmonaim, and our yearly rededication.


Family therapists are always inspired by the many relational metaphors which served the Rabbis of the Talmud in understanding Yisroel’s relationship to Hashem. The Pesikta begins (based on Shir HaShirim) to suggest that renewing a relationship requires something new that is added, and full permission and will from both sides. We then read that the intimate special relationship of Hashem with Yisroel in no way limits Hashem’s Presence in the entire world. We then read about how the Mishkan solidifies the entire world, and brings peace among incompatible physical entities and peace among competing people. The physical Mishkan is sanctified both piece by piece and as a whole entity; human sanctity comes together under honest leadership, exemplified by the Melech. Yisroel (in this case, Yissaschar) participated with Moshe Rabbeinu, and their dedication conquered time and created a process that is true to this day.

There are eight sections (in some editions), and one could easily imagine dedicating each night of Chanukah to each section, creating eight steps to the awesome continuity which we feel throughout all of Yisroel’s days.


There is so much to learn here (indirectly – it takes some imagination) about our work with families. I want to shine the spotlight on just one part. In our work we strive to  bring peace among family members. Does that mean that we work with all family members all the time? Like the Mishkan, often we focus on the intimate face-to face meetings of two family members. Doesn’t that leave others out? When we create one intimacy, doesn’t it come at the expense of other relations. How can we make any move forward without creating strife and jealousy that moves us backwards? 


We can extract a lesson from the Pesikta that indeed each dyad needs its own special space. However,  when we help one dyad to co-create something new, this actually inspires other family members to wish to enter into such relationships and helps move the human world forward to peace. True peace inspires joining, coming together, not strife and competition.

And now to our work at the Institute: When we take upon ourselves professional training we enter into a joint enterprise. We on the staff try to share our knowledge and experience in a way that helps our trainees to grow professionally ( which in this profession is always personally as well). Our trainees try to learn what they can from what we present. It is always a co-creation, and under “Corona remoteness” the challenge is greater on both sides. Now that we are half-way through the semester, we welcome dialog about how we are doing. During the coming week you will receive in your e-mail a word document for evaluating each of your classes. Please fill them in as fully as you can, focusing mainly on your personal experience in the training, and return by email to Naama no later than December 16th. She will make an anonymous pdf of them all and send them to each instructor. Classes that resume after Chanukah, on the 21st and 23rd will begin with an evaluation discussion. 


Please keep in mind that each of your instructors is a particular person and wants to use his or her special talents and point of view to help you to grow. We want to know how each instructor can best succeed with each trainee and with all our trainees.