In our house, each of us has our own Hanukkah menorah, so the increasing light each night of the holiday is really powerful. (We may even add one this year for our new puppy!) Hanukkah is about the redemptive power of light – light that we can see, and light that we can feel. Think about how you feel when you light your Hanukkah lights each night, especially on the eighth night.
It seems to me that the physical flames connect to some things that reside deep within us: memory, courage, hope. The memory of how we celebrated holidays over generations, and the meaning that light has had in every generation, can inspire us today and help us build memories for our families. The courage of the Maccabees who fought against a powerful oppressor connects to our own courage; that we can stand up for what is good and right. The hope of those who kindled the menorah after reclaiming their sacred Temple inspires our own hope, that we can overcome the things that frighten us to create a better world – that there can indeed be a better world.
I invite you this year when you light your candles to try to be still (or at least stay in the same room) and bask in their light. Maybe you play dreidel or eat latkes or dinner. Maybe you turn off your cell phone and television and every other device. Enjoy the light. Sit with the light. Be as present as you can be while the candles burn.
In this dark season, may the Hanukkah lights comfort and inspire all of us. Hag sameach, wishing a joyous and meaningful Hanukkah to you and your families.
Rabbi Alison Adler is the spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly.