This coming Thursday evening marks the beginning of the Festival of Lights, known as Chanukah. For the last 26 years, we came together as a community to light the Menorah, eat latkes and celebrate in person. This year, we will be celebrating online and in spirit. And although it will be very different, just as the Chanukah lights endured the darkest times in history, surely her bright lights and message will light up our current darkness.
Whether you are of the Jewish faith or not, the story and lights of Chanukah offer profound lessons for all humanity. Here is just one of those lessons.
Chanukah is observed by kindling candles. We begin with one light and, for eight days, we light an additional light. When we light the candles, we are reminded that we humans are like candles. The force of life within each of us provides us with our inner flame. The Chanukah Lights remind us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, within oneself and one’s family, by increasing and intensifying the light of Torah wisdom and act of goodness and kindness in the everyday experience, just as the Chanukah Lights are kindled in growing numbers from day to day.
And, though it begins at home, it does not stop there. Such is the nature of light that when one kindles a light for one’s own benefit, it benefits also all who are in the vicinity. Indeed, the Chanukah Lights are expressly meant to illuminate the “outside,” symbolically alluding to the duty to bring light also to those who, for one reason or another, still walk in darkness.
Yes, it is dark! Yet, we cannot fight darkness by force! Rather, by each of us embracing our unique role as a candle, we get to illuminate and transform the darkness in our corner of the world. The effect is a world filled with true, selfless, light and love.
Chabad of Malibu will be hosting online Menorah lightings through Chanukah. Please check our website jewishmalibu.com for more information.
R’ Levi Yitzchock Cunin