The Shamash – Hannukah & Essential Purpose
On the first night, stands two candles – one candle and the shamash. On the second night, there are three candles – two candles for two days or miracles, and the shamash. Thus the lighting of the candles continues until the eighth evening – when nine candles light up each Jewish home – celebrating the eight days of Hannukah and the “Shamash”.
“Shamash” in Hebrew, is the one that serves. This simple, often ignored candle is the light that lights up all the others. To me, the shamash is perhaps the most holy part of the whole Festival of Lights. The Shamash represents the light that we carry as conscious beings, manifesting as a service in unique structures of form on the planet.
Here is the case to be thankful for the Shamash, and Happy Hannukah and Thanksgiving to all of you!
1. Service, Passion and the Meaning of Life
The Shamash is of service.
That means, that all the miracle represented by the eight candles is dependent on her. Without the Shamash bringing the light from a source way beyond the very concept of salvation and miracle, there would be no miracle.
In our culture, we have a latent attitude that she or he that serves is inferior. Happiness is hooked into a condition of being served and not being of service. This is a terrible belief.
Can there be such a thing as private happiness? Happiness is directly connected to our capacity to be of service to the whole. If we are not of service, if we have no use beyond our own individual agenda, then we have no satisfaction. The temporary safety of having others serve us cannot be trusted – as we are dependent – dependent on a temporary structure of power.
In ourselves, the one who is served but is of no service has no sense of purpose. In no time, she who does not serve begins to waste in isolation – an isolation born from the ignorance of being a divided self with no interest in the whole.
Service arises from passion which is unconditional to personal pleasure or pain. As such, service allows the greatest manifestation. In the case of the Shamash, this is in the lighting up of the Hannukiah in every Jewish home.
2. The Shamash and Thanksgiving
The spirit and energy of gratitude is closely connected to passion and service.
Even when our whole world seems to collapse, it is still possible to find an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude for the service of others is a key. This opens the gratitude that we are able to serve, that we are part of the whole. It is this energy of gratitude which is able to light our way out through the rift between our personality and the core inner light. It lights our way because it releases the contraction or energetic seizure around private, ultimate identity as a structure of ego.
Remember the Shamash! It is not Shabbat Goy doing the dirty work for the miracle – it brings light from the whole which is of service to each individual miracle. Experience gratitude for its tender, constant flame!
Existence as human beings, also as Jewish humans or American humans, involves perception.
Before we do, say or decide anything; before we take any form, there is the one perceiving. In the act of being anything or existing, we perceive. Perception is before, behind and through all manifestation.
Perception is light and perception brings light.
The Shamash is that which beings light to each other candle. It is that which shares the light, or inspiration, from one candle to another.
As such – every one who is truly existing in the here and now is a shamash and is of service to the miracle of creation. Just this existence – this flame in its purity, is a service to the whole. Just this one flame can light up many, many other candles, and even by itself, can illuminate an infinite night.