Rabbi Ron Symons on December 10, 2018
Last night I stood in appreciation of the lights of the fully lit chanukiyah, Chanukah menorah. Having lit 2 chanukiyot in our front window, Barbara and I basked in the light of 36 flickering flames including their reflections. The lighting of the candles did what it was supposed to do: inform people outside of our house that we celebrate the miracle of light at this darkest time of the year.
Of course, we know that it is the darkest time of the year, it always is astronomically.
Of course, we know that this is the darkest time of the year, because of the moral challenges we face as evidenced by the shooting.
And despite all of that, we continue to light lights.
Rabbi Abraham Kook taught us,
[The] pure righteous do not complain of the dark, but increase the light; they do not complain of evil, but increase justice; … they do not complain of ignorance but increase wisdom.
This is our mandate now even more than before, even in the face of ongoing hatred:
Two teachers from Los Angeles articulate it this way:
On each night of Hanukkah, we increase the light in our homes and synagogues. But to increase the metaphorical light — hope — it appears that our focus should be on moving from loose optimism to a hardened sense of personal agency and volition. It is only by turning hope into action that darkness is overwhelmed by light. That needs to be the big takeaway here. Positive expectations like optimism can be helpful, but they’re not going to get that next candle lit. To truly increase the light this holiday, we need to strategize and act.
–(Hanukkah, Talmud and the Science of Hope, by Rabbi David Saiger and Nick Holton)
Like the Maccabees of years ago at this season, our task is to strategize and act. Make a difference. Get involved in a community organization. Share the light.
Rabbi Ron Symons, Senior Director of Jewish Life, leads the JCC’s Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement. To contact him, please fill out the form below.