Take a look at the tabletops above. Which one is bigger?
The answer is neither. As hard as it is to believe, the tabletop on the left is identical in size and shape to the one on the right. You can check by cutting out a piece of paper the exact shape of one and placing it over the other. (See "Michael Bach")
The interesting thing is that knowing this is an illusion doesn't allow us to correct for its effect. No matter how many times we look at the tabletops, named "Turning the Tables," by their designer Roger Shepard, they still appear to be different. We suffer from Change Blindness.
When Joseph's brothers arrive before Pharaoh's viceroy, aka Joseph, they see an Egyptian nobleman despite all the signals he sends that he is anything but. He eats meat, something the Egyptians didn't do. They must have heard tales of the slave-convict who rose to great heights, but they didn't make the connection to their brother whom they sold into slavery. He is interested in their father's well-being, almost obsessively so, but they can't figure out why. The man responsible for feeding the entire country insists on meeting Benjamin. He gives gifts to them. They find their money in their food-sacks. They don't pick up on any of his hints, as did Jacob. They are suffering from Change Blindness. Joseph won't reveal his identity until sure that his brothers are cured of their Change Blindness and are prepared to move to Egypt, a changed environment where Israel can only survive with accurate vision.
The Chashmonaim waited a year before instituting an official festival celebrating the Chanukah story. They wanted to be certain that the people were not suffering from Change Blindness. Miracles are great, and so are victories, but if we suffer from Change Blindness all the miracles and victories are meaningless. Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of our ability to overcome Change Blindness and learn to see the possibilities of change. The Chashmonaim could have made an addition to the Shabbat laws, one of the three main ideas for which they fought, but they insisted on adding a holiday focused on the Menorah, not because of the miraculous burning of the oil, but for its light; the way it changed how people perceived themselves, their destiny, the world.
The best way to bring Chanukah light into the world is to overcome our Change Blindness: We can pay attention to how friends and family have changed, and relate to them, not as we are accustomed to seeing them, but as they are now. More light! We can look at the familiar words of prayer without Change Blindness and see how they speak to us differently than they did in the past. More light! We can look at ourselves not as we were a year ago, but as we currently are. More light! We can look at everything we do, not as we are accustomed to seeing, but as something new. Infinite light! The gift of the Festival of Lights.
The Foundation Stone is pleased to offer a changed way to sing the Hallel: A Feast of Song, External & Internal Freedoms, Becoming Trusters, Joining in Song, Action Prayer, Freedom!, The Message Beyond The Miracle, & Singing With The Chashmonaim. You can read how Halacha never suffers from Change Blindness in The Music of Halacha: Lighting The Chanukah Candles. The Foundation Stone Blog offers a changed view of the Chanukah story in The Burden of a Decision I, II, & III. Gerald August challenges us to overcome Change Blindness while standing in line at The Toy Store.
I wish each of you a Shabbat and Chanukah blessed with Vision of Light, completely aware of all the changes around you and within.