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Adding Light

Monday, 22 November, 2010 - 3:07 am

Chanukah is coming!  Time to kindle the menorah, eat some chocolate gelt with the kids, perhaps play a game or two of dreidel.
But really, what does this ancient story in the second century BCE have to do with my life in 2010?
In a time of darkness, the Macabees found a flask of oil that illuminated the menorah for eight miraculous days.
We remember this miracle by lighting a menorah for eight days, too.
According to Jewish law, a Kosher menorah needs to contain eight candle-holders.  Eight potentials for light.  If one is lighting on Day Three, it is irrelevant that he does not need the remaining five holders.  They have to be there.
The deeper reason:  The ultimate way to maximize growth andLightingCandles.jpg potential is to fully act on one moment at a time, while looking ahead to future growth and potential.  Future light.
What is light?
Scientifically, we know that light moves in electromagnetic waves.  Currents.  Endlessly moving.
The light, the goodness that we create, too, must keep creating vibrations, movements, ripple effects.
Light giving impetus for more light.
As we celebrate each accomplishment, we can look to the future and know that there is more.
Light is lighting Shabbat candles on Friday afternoon before the sun sets, and then adding a dinner to go with it.
Light is being patient with a new clerk on a busy morning, and then bringing that patient attitude to the rest of my day. 
Light is picking two Kosher items to put in the shopping cart, and then being open to exploring more.
Light is calling someone who is lonely just to say hello, and then calling a little more often.
Light is setting aside five minutes a day to learn Torah from the wealth of information on the web, and then perhaps joining a class when possible.
Light is giving Tzedakah to important organizations, and then giving daily- even if it's a coin or two in a Tzedakah box.
Light is all of the goodness waiting to be done.
On the Lubavitcher Rebbe's 70th birthday, he was asked by a college student if it was possible to be his Chassid without donning the Chassidic garb, without growing a beard.
The Rebbe replied, "Every day, even now, I wake up each morning seeking to make it better than the day before.  If you only make the commitment to do this, to consistently add in goodness, I will be proud to call you my Chassid."

Judaism at its essence is a living ideology.
At Passover, we don't simply celebrate a liberation from slavery 2,000 years ago- we focus on breaking free from our own inner-Egypts.
At Shavuot, we don't simply read about the giving of the Torah to a brand-new nation- we renew our commitment to receiving the Torah into our own personal lives.
At Chanukah, we don't simply tell the age-old story of a flask of oil that burned, and burned, and yet burned some more- we add one candle each night, a reflection of the goodness we strive to accomplish, banishing the darkness in our world- not through sweeping it out with a broom- but by adding, and adding, and yet adding light.

Comments on: Adding Light

cathy wrote...

This is such a beautiful sentiment Shula, just as you described in Torah class last week. The world seeks light in many ways, and we need to be the lamplighters!
Good Shabbos, Love Cathy

Rishe wrote...

Shula, where you write "call someone who is lonely"
I have seen you do that
I have seen you sit down at your dining room table for full focus and attention and phone a Holocaust survivor and give him a full hour of your time. You have heard him out with great respect as he recalls for the 100th time seeing his little sister being led into the gas chamber. you really do practice what you preach - that's why we can take it from you. much success.