8 Nights, 1,000 Points of Light

December 6, 2018

RabbiWQAidzerheadshot-206x259Happy Chanukkah!

All week long we have been celebrating our Festival of Lights. Night by night, the number of candles kindled on the menorah increase, bringing more and more light into this season of early darkness. And, night by night, we are taught to share that light with the world around us by placing our menorah in a window, adding brightness to our community.

A parallel struck me as I watched our nation mourn the passing of our 41st president this week. President George H. W. Bush famously used the image of “1000 points of light” to highlight the role that individuals and organizations could play in our society through volunteerism. He believed that the more that we find ways to contribute to society, to help others around us, to give back to our community, the brighter our world will be.

The two teachings share a common goal – shining light in our world. The menorah reminds us of the miracle of Chanukkah, sharing the light of our people’s victory over tyranny and God’s wondrous redemption. President Bush reminds us that the betterment of our society will take all of our involvement, sharing our personal light, our skills, our talents, to make a brighter world.

I learned from Noam Zion of the Shalom Hartman Institute a teaching from Rav Abraham Kook, the leading rabbi of the Jewish community in Israel before the establishment of the state. Reflecting both the teachings of Jewish tradition and of President Bush, Rav Kook taught:

Everyone must know and understand
that within burns a candle.
There is no one’s candle that is like his/her fellow’s
and no one lacks their own candle.
Everyone must know and understand
that it is their task to work to reveal the light of that candle in the public realm.
And to ignite it until it is a great flame,
and to illuminate the whole world.

In this season of Chanukkah, this Festival of Lights, may we each be igniters of our flame and illuminators of our world.

Hope to see you at “101 Menorahs” on Friday night at 6:30. May it be a joyful holiday for us all!