Ner Elohim (The Candle of God – A Journey of Faith)
Music by David P. Goldstein
Soundcloud Link – Performed by the Renaissance City Choir, Raymond Blackwell, Baritone, William Larson, Piano, Jeffry Blake Johnson, Conductor
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining
I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it;
I believe in God, even when God is silent.
(Words scratched into a wall in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.)
Ner Elohim nishmat Adam, chofaysh kol chad’ray vaten
The candle of God is the soul of the human
searching all the inner rooms. (Proverbs 20:27)
Yah formed Adam out of the dust of the earth,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and the human became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
Eight candles of these days illumine my spirit;
Chanukah candles illumine my heart. (Goldstein)
Not by might, nor by power, but with God’s spirit. (Zechariah 4:6)
I set out to write a Chanukah piece that captured the miracles and faith of Chanukah – a vastly outnumbered army winning a crucial battle in defense of religious freedom for the Jews; a vial of oil that lasted far longer than reasonable. Chanukah is a time of re-sanctification of that which has been desecrated, and a time to reconnect with our beliefs.
Ner Elohim starts with a simple statement of faith at a very complex time – words of faith that were found on the walls of a barracks in Auschwitz. Where does faith like this originate, and how can we relate it to our lives? Do we blindly follow what we are told by our temple and church leaders, or do we use our minds and spirits to arrive at our own relationship with Creation. At the heart of Ner Elohim is Proverbs 20:27 – “The candle of God is the soul seeking the inner rooms”. It is in this constant state of seeking, challenging, and questioning that we light up the world through our differences.
Ultimately, it is not our might or superior military strength that brings us to victory. It is the spirit of oneness, in protecting the dignity of each part of creation and its right to follow its own path.
David P. Goldstein