Dec. 1, 2021 / 27 Kisleiv, 5782
Now in the midst of our joyous celebration of Chanukah, I am reminded of the joke which has a befuddled person searching for an object he lost, but not looking in the spot where he actually lost it. When asked why he’s looking here rather than there, he responds: “Because here there is light!”
While certainly nonsensical in this scenario, in life generally there is actually great wisdom in this sentiment. We should indeed always try to place ourselves “where the light is” – and, at the same time, we should also expend great energies in bringing light to places that are dark. Chanukah speaks of both these avenues, and hopefully inspires our lives in these directions.
There are settings, circumstances, places, objects, ideologies, ways of life, attitudes, relationships, and people (family, friends, even strangers) that are “where the light is.” It is up to us to discern all the “where the light is” opportunities before us and embrace them, support them, nurture them, appreciate them, and work to keep those lights lit brightly in our lives. Doing so would make our lives and those of others ever more meaningful and deeply holy. The Maccabees saw Torah, the Jewish wisdom and values of the sages and the ages, the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, Jewish history and destiny, Am Yisraeil, the Beit Hamikdash, and Eloheinu v’Elohei Avoteinu (our God and God of our ancestors) in this way, and fought to keep them all eternally brightly illuminated.
Indeed, the Maccabees - as other heroes did and would throughout Jewish history when we have faced terrible times – arose and brought a magnificent light to overwhelm those dreadful darknesses, a sacred eternal light which was ultimately stronger than any darkness could ever be. Similarly, what a great mitzvah it would be for each of us to bring Godly light to people, places, and situations that could certainly use it. Doing this would make our world a brighter and holier place.
As Hillel said, מעלין בקודש ואין מורידין בקודש– “we must increase the world of holiness, we may not diminish it.” In this vein, we use the everlasting Jewish lights of truth, justice, liberty, morality, and Godliness to ever-expand the world of “where the light is,” leaving no room for its contraction or extinction.
All the above are the beautiful, powerful, joyous, vital, inspiring messages of Chanukah. I ask you to allow them to resonate in all manifestations of your life, and to have them illuminate and guide your sacred Jewish derech (path).
I wish for each and all of us fulfillment in our lives of this blessing found in the Talmud (Brachot 17a): יהי רצון מלפניך יי אלוהינו שתעמידנו בקרן אורה – May it be Your will, Adonai our God, that You situate us in good standing with a cornucopia of light.
From Judy, Ayelet, Eitan, Noam, and me, our best wishes to all of you for a Chag Urim Sameiach, Chag Chanukah Sameiach – Happy Festival of Lights, Happy Chanukah!