Dec 12, 2017

Build the Light! A Channukah Note!

a note from Rabbi Creditor
Build the Light!

Dear Chevreh,

Channukah is tonight! On the one hand, the Festival of Lights is a very minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, without biblical narrative nor talmudic tractate. (For some great Channukah texts, click here.) On the other hand, here in America, when evening falls earlier in the day, these lights we light stand tall, shining bright like diamonds in the darkness.

I found myself watching my children just yesterday, cleaning our channukiot from accumulated wax from years gone by, creating new art to hang on the walls, and the truth of this simple maxim from the Talmud rang ever-more true to me:

"According to the House of Hillel, this is the custom of extreme beautifiers of tradition (mehadrin min hamehadrin): On the first day one lights one and from then on one continues to increase."

Each Jewish holiday has its own character. Channukah is a complicated story, with zealotry and war, ritual purity and societal assimilation, corruption and oppression, and ultimately liberation and re-dedication. The fascinating folklore of these 8 days should remind us, in our own complicated global moment, of the task at hand: start with light, and continue to increase. 

As we find ourselves witness to shimmering, flickering lights for the next 8 nights, may we also feel their fire within us, burning bright, reminding us of our capacity to illuminate every corner of the world. 

Chag Channukah Sameach!
Rabbi Creditor

Rabbi Menachem Creditor