(Page 2 of 2)
Even those less inclined to look to Scripture for insight should embrace the approach of intensifying our research into alternate fuel sources. Author Paul Douglas is on the right track when he speaks of a Manhattan Project to develop a source of energy that is not based on petroleum. President Bush embraced this rhetorically during his State of the Union address; since then, we have watched the price of oil rise drastically. The time for action is at hand.
Although we seek to retire petroleum from powering our machinery, to let it rest under the deserts and the oceans, we still appreciate the notion of oil as fuel. Many different plant and vegetable substances were designed to offer the option of being ground or pressed into oil. This oil can be ignited to burn as a flame. These flames are not noted for providing much heat, but they are wonderful conveyors of light.
Candlelight is at the heart of the seasonal observances. This wonderful illumination has a gentle touch, bathing us in a homey light. So many romances, so much poetry, so many appealing fancies, so many ennobling dreams, have been fostered in the tender glow of the candle. Somehow the cold harsh world of winter melts away when the feisty candle reaches its circle of light into boxy rooms.
One last thought. Here is a small quote from the Talmud (Shabbat 23a), presented as a legal statement, but apparently something a great deal more profound: “The scholar Rabba used to think that sesame oil is preferable for Chanukah candles, because it burns longer, until he was taught that olive oil is preferable, because it gives off a clearer light.”
We live in paradoxical times. Amazing technological advances enhance our lives and increase our potential for achievement, on one hand. Horrific terrorist ideologies are metastasizing into moral cancers which endanger our lives and shrink their range, on the other. Our prayer in this season: clarity above all.