Rabbi Ron Symons on December 3, 2015
Ain’t it the truth. We can’t seem to tune on the news, pick up our phone or read the paper without feeling a great sense of darkness nowadays. Shootings in Colorado Springs, San Bernardino and Pittsburgh, let alone Paris and the challenges of refugees fleeing their homelands for fear of their lives… we need more light!
Thank God for Hanukah. Every year, as we enter the darkest time of year, we have a wonderful custom of lighting candles. It almost feels like Hanukah was designed by a therapist offering us light therapy to avoid the doldrums of winter depression.
Around 2,000 years ago there was a debate. Rabbi Shammai argued that we should light 8 candles on the first night and decrease the number each successive night until we finished on the eighth night with one lonely candle. Rabbi Hillel countered: In matters of holiness we increase – 1 candle on the first night and then we increase night be night until on the eighth night we have a menorah filled with light. He concluded with a general principles: IN MATTERS OF HOLINESS WE ALWAYS INCREASE.
So it should be for us. When we are feeling rather dark because of our circumstances, we should light more lights. How amazing it is, in our pluralistic world, in the months to come Jews will light Hanukah lights, Christians will light their trees and houses, African-Americans will light their Kwanza candles…. among others. I say, “The more the better! We need more light!”
PS – I have attached several documents that might help you celebrate Hanukah through blessings, songs, history and dreidels. Enjoy. Feel free to write [email protected] for more conversation.
Lighting Hanukah Candles
Image originally from http://cantorneff.com/2010/12/