A Thought on Light at Chanukah Time
Rabbi Joe Blair
Chanukah is often thought of as the holiday of light, or lights. After the difficult times of oppression and persecution, a moment arrived when we (through the Hasmoneans) were victorius, with G-d’s help carving out a respite in the ongoing war, lightening and enlightening the world for a time. We recall the re-kindling of faith and hope as the Temple was re-dedicated, at that time when the menorah was re-lit to shine out and dispel the darkness that had come in those days. That light has served as a beacon of hope and faith and comfort to many, then, and in all the years and centuries since.
That light, the light of the presence of G-d among us, shines on still. That light cannot be extinguished, but it can be made dim and difficult, even impossible to see. In our day, there are reasons that the light is not apparent to us.
Today, we must acknowledge that the holy light of the presence of G-d among us is not visible to us. It is clouded by the darkness of war in many places. It is obscured by the existence of hate, bigotry, and prejudice among us, and within us. It is masked by the use of violence and bloodshed as tools to quash others. It is concealed by the cries of those who feel the sting of poverty and degradation. It is hidden by the intolerance and lack of acceptance of others not exactly like us. It is covered by the actions and choices of our elected and appointed officials, in our name, in perpetrating actions we do not and cannot condone or accept. It is veiled by the actions and words of our leaders, religious and secular, who use their position to further their own ends and not G-d’s. It is buried by the vicious, genocidal actions of so many in too many places.
If we are to truly kindle the light of Chanukah, we must re-dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of justice and righteousness. We must partner with G-d in making the world more perfect, more fit for the presence of G-d among us, so that the light of G-d’s presence will shine forth brightly, illuminating all in every corner of this world.
There are so very many needs, and so many worthy ways to work towards this end. I pray that we each choose at least one among them, and dedicate and re-dedicate ourself to the holy tasks of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) and Rodef Tzedek (pursuit of righteousness) to help bring light to the world at this season of the year when light is on our mind. .
November 21. 2007