Mintz: Increasing the light in our world
Chanukah is upon us, ushering in the Festival of Lights 2021. It’s a holiday sourced in a compelling story that reverberates in our souls some 2,100 years later.
Nothing, not even a dreadful pandemic, can stop the human yearning for light, the unwavering quest for religious freedom and the hope ingrained in our hearts for a better tomorrow. When we gaze at the Chanukah candles, we are reminded that hope, brightness and holiness is real.
Though we light one candle on the first night, we aren’t satisfied with its glowing flame, and on the second night we add a second candle, increasing the light each night until we reach the pinnacle on the eighth night.
The Talmudic sages in the Yeshiva academies of Hillel and Shamai debated whether to start with one at the onset and end with eight at the finale, or to start with eight and end with one. We follow Hillel’s opinion which is to always increase more light, never going backward in the sphere of illumination.
It’s not an easy idea to implement in our day-to-day life, but it’s vital. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation … even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”
In the 21st century we are blessed that Chanukah is indeed popular. Even self-proclaimed secular Jews are proud of their menorah, their ability to sing “Dreidel Dreidel” and their love for potato latkes. Yet, amid all the fun, it’s an annual reminder that yesterday’s light isn’t enough to illuminate today’s darkness.
As negativity raises its ugly head, the forces of light have two choices — either be overwhelmed by gloom or increase the glow to knock darkness off its feet and, perhaps, even out of the park. This isn’t an inspiring slogan, it’s the cold hard truth: If those seeking holiness take a break, we are toast, but if we keep up the good fight, if we stand up for the eternal morals of Torah, our influence will transform our world for the better.
Join us this Sunday to kick off the Festival of Lights with Chanukah on Ice in Lionshead Village. Please visit JewishVail.com for a full Chanukah schedule and more info.
Rabbi Dovid Mintz directs Vail Chabad Jewish Center. He and his family live in Vail since 2006. He can be reached at info@JewishVail.com.