When I think of Hanukkah, I think of miracles and bringing light into our lives, our communities and the world.
The late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, wrote in “The Obligation to Illuminate the World,” posted on Chabad.org, “Our sages said, ‘A little light expels a lot of darkness.’
“The Chanukah Lights remind us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, within oneself and one’s family, by increasing and intensifying the light of Torah and Mitzvos in the everyday experience, even as the Chanukah Lights are kindled in growing numbers from day to day.
“But though it begins at home, it does not stop there. Such is the nature of light that when one kindles a light for one’s own benefit, it benefits also all who are in the vicinity. Indeed, the Chanukah Lights are expressly meant to illuminate the ‘outside,’ symbolically alluding to the duty to bring light also to those who, for one reason or another, still walk in darkness.”
I felt heartened reading this as we are living in a time of strife and conflict: Light is stronger than darkness.
Here are some things to think about as you light each Hanukkah candle:
• Light up your own life.
• Light up someone else’s life.
• Shine a light on the good you see around you.
• Shine a light around the darkness you see around you.
• Combine your light with others who are shining their light.
Rabbi Schneerson wrote “The Obligation to Illuminate the World” in 1980, long before our current political landscape, but his words hold truer now than ever before.
The article continues, “What is true of the individual is true of a nation, especially this great United States, united under G-d, and generously blessed by G-d with material as well as spiritual riches. It is surely the duty and privilege of this Nation to promote all the forces of light both at home and abroad, and in a steadily growing measure.
“Let us pray that the message of the Chanukah Lights will illuminate the everyday life of everyone personally, and of the society at large, for a brighter life in every respect, both materially and spiritually.”
I look forward to lighting the Hanukkah candles each year. The menorah I use was given to me by a childhood friend – I have had it for more than 30 years. The lights on my menorah evoke the Maccabees and the symbol is powerful for me. It always reminds me of the strength of our Jewish people and the pride I feel for being among them.
PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.