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Religion

Turn on the light

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This month can certainly use some light. Our community has experienced the emotional toll of terrible losses in the past days and weeks. It almost feels fitting that Eskom keeps plunging us into physical darkness as well.

What better time to usher in Chanukah – eight days of ever-increasing light, life, and miracles. Here are eight ideas we can learn from the Chanukah miracles to increase light and add meaning to life. Perhaps we can meditate and integrate these, one for each night of Chanukah.

  • Few can win over many. It’s not the numbers that are most significant; it’s the passion and vigour of one’s conviction.
  • Don’t conform to popular opinion just because it’s popular. Stay true to your inner values.
  • A little light dispels much darkness. One positive word or good action can erase so much gloom.
  • Don’t fight darkness. Enlighten it by shining the light of truth and purpose. Don’t dwell on negativity or failures. Instead, focus on positive change.
  • Increase the light each night. Don’t be satisfied with your achievements, keep aiming higher.
  • It’s not enough to light up one’s self, light up the outdoors as well. Share wisdom and good fortune with others.
  • When we go beyond our natural abilities, we elicit G-d’s miracles.
  • We are a miraculous nation. In spite of all of those who tried to decimate us, we have survived and thrived.

In Parshat Vayeshev, which we read this week, we meet Joseph the dreamer describing his night-time reveries to his family. One of the dreams he relates is of his family collecting grain stalks in the field and binding them into sheaves.

A field, the outdoors, represents the “outside world” away from a Jew’s comfort zone. One of the explanations offered is that Joseph and his brothers were outside collecting lost “sparks” of holiness.

G-d created the world in a way that holiness is concealed everywhere. Our job is to uncover those sparks and elevate them back to their original source. We can’t find these sparks just by staying inside. We need to go out and bring the light of Torah and Judaism’s message to the furthest reaches of the universe; only then will the sparks be returned to where they belong.

During the festival of Chanukah, we light our menorahs outdoors and specifically at night, symbolising our mission to light up the darkness, physical and spiritual.

Throughout the past 20 months, we were required to quarantine and isolate for fear of spreading COVID-19. Chanukah is about being infectious in a good way. It teaches us the power of spreading light with good deeds, like lighting a Chanukah candle, thereby illuminating our surroundings.

May the light of the menorah illuminate the darkness presently pervading our world. Wishing our entire community, a very joyous, light-filled Chanukah.

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