Tonight is the first day of Chanukah. On Chanukah we pay tribute to the heroes of long ago, the Maccabees whose courage and refusal to surrender in the face of terrible and overwhelming odds blazed a trail for the survival of the Jewish people and the freedom to practice our faith.
As part of the blessing when lighting the menorah we say "בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּה - IN THOSE DAYS, IN THIS TIME.
IN THOSE DAYS is an allusion to a profound Jewish concept: The spiritual light that was evident during the miracle of Chanukah is reinstated annually on the anniversary of the miracle.
Every Chanukah. AT THIS TIME we can draw on the energy of "THOSE DAYS.” The eight days of Chanukah are an auspicious time to wage spiritual battles against evil, impurity and corruption within and without.
THE MIRACULOUS VICTORY of a military weak but spiritually strong Jewish people that culminated in the rekindling of the Menorah which had been desecrated and extinguished by the Greeks has been celebrated annually ever since.
Every year we light the Menorah, which is a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, and of light over darkness.
IT IS A TIMELY AND reassuring message. For the forces of darkness are ever present. Moreover, the danger does not come exclusively from outside; it often lurks close to home, in the form of the erosion of time-honored values and principles that are the foundation of a decent, human society.
Needless to say, darkness is not chased away by brooms and sticks, but by illumination. Our Sages said. "A little light expels a lot of darkness”.
THE CHANUKAH Light reminds us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, by increasing in acts of mitzvot, good deeds. Just as every night of Chanukah we add another light so-to, we continue to add the light of goodness and kindness for ourselves and our family.
Such is the nature of light that when kindles a light for one's own benefit it benefits all who are in the vicinity. Indeed, this is one of the motivating factors behind public menorah lightings as the Chanukah Lights are expressly meant to illuminate the "outside."
The message of the menorah is not to keep the light for yourself but to bring light to friends, neighbors, our communities and cities. This Chanukah let us become heroes as well. If you know someone who does not have a bright home on Chanukah, then go visit them, bring a menorah and bring some light into their lives. Become a lamplighter! A little bit of light dispels much darkness
With HEARTFELT, best wishes for a very happy Chanukah filled with light.