Tuesday, December 3, 2013


6th Day of Hannukah
30 Kislev, 5774
December 3rd, 2013

Every year, with my students, I try to explain our Rabbis’ obsession with light.
It’s one of the physical phenomena on which they spend most of their time. The Torah is interested in earth and sea, tree and stone, thunder and lightning. But for Hazal*, it is voice, water…and light.

What makes this physical attribute such a place of metaphysical concern? It is that light possesses a peculiar property: its effect extends far beyond itself. Even a small flame banishes quite a bit of darkness. Light transcends the meager matter that created it. Every flame illuminates, not itself, but the world around it.

Proverbs teaches, “God’s candle is the human soul,”(20:27), and our Rabbis believed it. To them, there is for every person the possibility of becoming incandescent. The way we live, the way we are – in certain moments we are set ablaze, and those around us bask in the warmth of the light that we shine.

I believe it too. We live for more than just ourselves. When we are enlightened, the world is brightened. Bring light to those you love, to those with whom you spend your life. Never doubt that you have the capacity. Your soul is God’s candle.

Hag Urim Sameah - May your Holiday of Light be filled with joy.

*An acronym meaning, “The Sages, may their memory be blessed.” In Hebrew, “Hakhamim, Zikhronam Livrakhah” – HaZaL
Both the morning and the evening service begin with a long paean to light. For you Shabbes morning shul-goers, check out the El Adon – a Hebrew acrostic found after the Barkhu.

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