We are approaching the celebration of Chanukah, known as “The Festival of Lights”. Every night for eight days, we light another candle until on the eight night, we are lighting eight candles. In every temple/synagogue, there was and is a light which is always lit, the Eternal Light, signifying G-d’s presence. At the time of Chanukah (the Jews were fighting for religious freedom against the Greeks) there was only enough oil in the Eternal Light to last one day. Of course, there was a miracle and the light lasted for eight days until the Jews were able to bring more oil. A small number of Jews (in comparison to the large number of Greeks) were able to defeat the Greeks to win religious freedom, bringing light to the Jewish people again.
I started to think about the role of light in the Christmas story as well. Jesus is seen as bringing light, a savior of peace, into a dark world. The picture of the messianic light (the bright star) is seen on the night of Jesus’ birth. Christmas songs are filled with references to Jesus bringing light into the world. Today, with electricity, we see beautiful Christmas lights throughout our cities and neighborhoods.
Our country is in need of the season of light, both Chanukah & Christmas. These are the shortest days of the year, with the least amount of light. So, using your own tradition, think of the light you wish to bring into the your family and community at this time of year. Some great ways to bring in light to your family and friends are being more present, truly listening, hugging, appreciating and helping them. In your community, you can give time or money to those less fortunate than you, lend a helping hand, pray for those who are ill, or say a kind word to someone in the grocery store. In the world, we can pray for peace and stand up for our beliefs.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all.