Daily Tidbits: Light For Every Night

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1st Night of Chanukah. In the beginning, “G-d said, ‘Let There Be Light.’” The reference is not only to physical light as we know it. This initial statement is the mandate of all Creation. The ultimate goal and purpose of creation is that the Divine Light shine throughout the world, transforming everything, even darkness itself, so that it, too, will shine.

2nd Night of Chanukah. At Creation, G-d made the “two great lights,” the sun and the moon. The sun is constant—every day the same big fiery ball appears in the sky above us. But the moon is always going through changes. It has its ups and downs; one day it is full, then it wanes, getting smaller and smaller. Yet even after it seems to have completely disappeared, it renews itself, and grows again. Even as we grow and change, we must retain our consistency.

3rd Night of Chanukah. The lamp. The Syrian-Greek desecration of the Holy Temple was another example of their determination to destroy the sanctity of Jewish life. The worship of one invisible, omnipotent G-d was replaced with the worship of pagan deities made in the image of man.

The Torah tells us that “the soul of man is the lamp of G-d.” Just as oil permeates the olive, the Divine soul permeates the Jew, and just as the oil burning in the menorah spreads light, the Jewish soul illuminates the world in the performance of good deeds. In defiling the sacred oil of the menorah, the Greeks tried to destroy the Jewish soul.

But the soul cannot be extinguished. Miraculously, despite the best efforts of the oppressors, one cruse of pure oil remained in the Temple, and one cruse was enough to rededicate the Temple and renew the holy task of spreading light throughout the world.

4th Night of Chanukah. Lighting the dark. Shabbat candles are lit before dark, inside our home. By contrast, Chanukah’s candles have to remain lit into the darkness of the night, and near a window facing the street.

Shabbat candles bring light within, but the Chanukah lights go further, also transforming the darkness outside.

5th Night of Chanukah. Increasing the light. “A mitzvah is compared to a candle and the Torah is light.” We should always aspire to increase our level of Torah and mitzvot. If we did one good deed yesterday, let us try to increase and do more today. Like the Chanukah candles, we are meant to add light every day.

The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, said, “The Hebrew word for light is ‘ohr’—the numerical equivalent of ‘raz’ (inner secret). Whoever knows the ‘secret’ contained in everything can bring illumination.”

6th Night of Chanukah. Miracles for today. The lights of the Chanukah menorah are more than simply a reminder of ancient miracles; they are meant to provide inspiration and illumination in our contemporary daily lives.

In a very real sense, the Chanukah miracles of old are reenacted in our observance today. That is one reason why we say, in the second blessing recited over the Chanukah lights, “Blessed are You . . . who wrought miracles for our ancestors, in those days, at this time.” By reflecting upon the significance of the Chanukah miracles, we can see, with ever-increasing clarity, the miraculous dimension of events in our own time.

7th Night of Chanukah. Spreading the light. There is a Talmudic statement: “We are day workers.” Day means light. Our task is to spread light, to illuminate the world with the light of the Torah.

Evil and darkness do not get swept out with a broom. By creating more light, the night and darkness will disappear by themselves.

8th Night of Chanukah. The infinite light. Although it commemorates the kindling of the Temple’s menorah, which had only seven branches, our Chanukah menorah has eight lights.

The number eight in this context is not just the digit after seven.

Symbolically, “seven” is associated with the natural world, created in six days and completed with G-d’s rest on the seventh, Shabbat. “Eight,” however, represents the infinite and supernatural, in contrast to the finite and natural.

The seven-lamp menorah illuminated the natural world, but Chanukah goes beyond. It is a foretaste and reflection of the era of Mashiach, a higher level that is above and beyond our worldly limitations.

At the end of the long, dark night, right before daybreak, we may be tempted to fall asleep. Chanukah gives us the strength to be awake for and aware of the approach of daylight. (Chabad.org)

 

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