“Fire, light and candles are the perfect symbols for Hanukkah, a holiday that takes place at the darkest time of the year. One of the many qualities of fire is that we can light other candles with our flame without diminishing the original source. A flame can easily spread to another wick without compromising its own strength; the power of the fire only grows. Gandhi said, “A thousand candles can be lighted from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.”
There is a story told about a 7-year-old boy whose family was about to leave Poland. Before the journey, the boy’s father took him to the next town to receive a blessing from an important rabbi. The boy and his father stayed in the rabbi’s house, and the boy slept in the rabbi’s study. The air was so pure, the books were so holy, and the boy was so excited. He was not able to sleep. In the middle of the night, the boy heard a sound, and he pretended to be asleep. It was the rabbi. The rabbi came into the room, looked down at him, and said to himself: “Such a sweet child.” Then the rabbi thought that perhaps the child might be cold. The rabbi took off his jacket and draped it over the boy.
Many years later that boy was asked about his spiritual journey and about his greatest inspiration. He replied, “I am now almost 80 years old. That was 73 years ago, and I am still warm from that jacket.”
During the festival of Hanukkah, let us remember that others are warmed and inspired by our flame, especially during moments of physical and social darkness. May our light increase as we extend ourselves to others.
Happy Hanukkah to everyone. May this festival bring happiness, blessing and good health to you and your loved ones!
Rabbi Brian Glusman serves the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and is the visiting rabbi at Shearith Israel Synagogue in Columbus, Ga.