Chanukiah Candles Bring Forth Light against Darkness

December 21, 2019

Submitted by Mike Rosenberg

In this multicultural age, almost everyone probably knows about the 2,200-year-old miracle of the Chanukah light. A single day’s ration of olive oil, kindled in the ravaged Holy Temple in Jerusalem, continued to burn for eight days, enough time for the production of a new supply.

I used to wonder why this was such a big deal. Say the oil was exhausted, and a week later, the eternal flame was rekindled with a permanent supply. How would that detract from the real Chanukah miracle — the success of the guerilla warriors in neutralizing a powerful military opponent?

Now I understand that the miraculous light was a statement of Divine endorsement. God’s message to the victorious forces was, “If you thought I was working behind the scenes to ensure your battlefield success, you were correct. Mazel tov!” (Or words to that effect.)

The contemporary message of the Chanukah candles is symbolic as well. Here we are, at the time of the longest nights of the year, engaged in our own battles against social, environmental, political, and cultural darkness. One response is to bring forth light.

When I recite the blessings over the Chanukiah this week, I will be fulfilling a religious obligation. Other communities of faith also celebrate customs and traditions that illuminate December’s gloom.

But regardless of religious affiliation, or for that matter a belief in a Supreme Being, anyone can join the never-ending battle to defeat darkness, whether with a Chanukah candle, another sacred symbol, or just the spark of a heartfelt personal commitment to making the world a little better every day.

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