November 29, 2018
There’s a dispute in the Talmud about kindling the lights for Chanukkah. One side says we should start with all 8 candles lit, then each night decrease the number of lit candles by one, counting down the days of the holiday. The other side says we start with just 1 candle lit, then each night increase the number of lit candles by one, counting up the days of the holiday.
We know by our practice which side wins that debate. Each night, we kindle one more flame, adding to the lights of the holiday. It isn’t exactly clear in the Talmud why this side wins, but I like to think that we should always ADD to the light in the world, not subtract from it. Particularly at this season of the year, when darkness falls earlier and earlier, we can all use a little bit more light in our lives!
Metaphorically as well, one of the messages of Chanukkah is to increase the amount of light in the world. We add light when we mark the holiday with family and friends. We add light when we celebrate together as a community. We add light with acts of goodness and kindness. We add light by sharing what we have with others, by looking out for the less fortunate among us, and by speaking up against hatred and injustice. We have so many opportunities to add light to our world.
Here at Temple Beth El, we share our light with each other at our “101 Menorahs” celebration, Friday night, Dec 7, at 6:30 with the lighting of our outdoor menorah and at 6:45 with our Shabbat evening service. See more details here.
We can also enrich our celebration of Chanukkah with these excellent resources from the Union for Reform Judaism, including how-to videos, family activities, social action ideas, recipes, and much more.
May it be a joyful, light-filled, festive Chanukkah for us all!