Tonight we light the 8th candle for Hanukkah and ask the final question. Tonight, each candle is about JOY & laughter. When we collect moments of joy, we bring light into our lives.
Tonight’s question for journaling and discussion is:
What 8 things bring you joy or laughter?
Here are mine:
by my beloved teacher Rabbi Dr. Rachel Adler.
Rabbi Adler was anything but a mystic when she was my professor in rabbinical school. I’m not sure she can still claim that “not a mystic” moniker given her absolutely delightful writing of this small volume of stores that began as amusing posts to friends. I read the book with a smile on my face as she shares deep and beautiful Jewish mystical wisdom through the eyes of her cat, Dagesh, the holy Mysticat, who came into her life and now ours. The appendices alone are worth having this book in your library, as she succinctly and beautifully explores the unique way Jews read holy texts, a timeline, definitions, and more.
“Shortly after the Mysticat settled in, he was presented with a fountain placed on the floor, convenient to the low platform where his blue and white blows for wet and dry cat food sit. The Mysticat meditates on this fountain. After all, the Torah itself is compared to a maayan, a fountainhead of living waters, fluid an ineqxhaustible. Every time the learner comes to drink, the waters are new. Every text can yeile new illuminations, no matter how many times itt has been studied.” page 3
2. Unexpected beauty
I can be minding my own business, lost in thoughts or planning, when I crest the hill to see a beautiful vista that takes my breath away. Or driving home, an unusually colorful and radiant sunset is before me. My heart settles into joy as I say a blessing:
Blessed are You, Creator of the Universe, who makes the marvels of creation.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu ruach ha’olam oseh ma’aseh vereishit.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ייְ ָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם עוֹשֵׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשׁ ִית
3. Learning about new species of trees and birds.
In our new area, there are all kinds of old but new-to-us trees, plants and birds. It is a special joy when I spot new birds at our feeder, like woodpeckers and hummingbirds. I recently found an app called Seek, INaturalist that helps us identify the various trees we walk amidst. It is so exciting to be able to name what we see. Another app called Merlin helps us identify birds by their calls! We are having so much fun.
4. New York Times mini crossword.
A friend turned me on to this daily delight. It is a good fairly easy brain workout and there is something very joyful about completing the puzzle each morning or night.
5. Seeing someone’s eyes light up with excitement discovering something new.
I feel elevated when I experience someone either learning something new and their eyes light up, or discover something profound about themselves or the world. Perhaps that is because I feel so much joy when I learn, so it’s doubley wonderful to appeciate this in someone else.
6. Our adult sons becoming settled in their adult lives.
I can hardly think of anything more wonderful than seeing our two grown sons find their way in the world with grace, kindness and skill. As they navigate their lives, making decisions about who to become attached to, what work is meaningful, and sharing their uniqueness with the world, I stand in awe of them.
7. Morning tea.
There is something quietly joyful about having my tea (Darjeeling, or black tea with cardomon like we had in India, or nana tea – black tea with fresh mint from our garden- like we had in Israel. I also drink a bit of kombucha, made by people I know! It’s such a heavenly way to feel centered and nourished, while connecting to beautiful memories of the past.
8. BO, of course BO.
In the seven years since he joined our family, not a day has gone by where we haven’t laughed. Maybe every dog is funny and loving (he is our first dog) but every day he brings us joy and laughter with his effusive, quirky and delightful way of being. Literally, we laugh all day with him.
Now it’s your turn.
What 8 things bring you joy or laughter?
— I have really enjoyed posting a new question for each night of Hanukkah with a photo of our precious #Bo, our Labradoodle. For my favorite potato latkes recipe click here. For the Hanukkah candle blessings, click here.
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