“Chanukah Lights Our Way”


“Chanukah Lights Our Way”

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

The first night of Chanukah is Thursday night, December 10th! In the darkness of the evening, one small candle plus the shammash (lead candle) can hardly brighten the space around the Menorah. It reminds me of the rabbinic lesson, “All beginnings are hard.” But, then comes the second night, and the third, and so on. The Menorah fills with light enough to brighten the space around it and the room where it proudly stands.  

In the times of the prophet Zechariah, the project to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem was getting underway. It was no small feat. Delays and overruns impeded progress. But the prophet Zechariah spoke to Zerubbabel, the lay leader at the head of the community, saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit!” God’s promise inspired Zerubbabel. They all came to know that might and power were small matters compared to God’s spirit. Further, Zechariah said, “Zerubbabel’s hands shall complete it…Does anyone scorn a day of small beginnings?”

The prophet’s words still speak to us at this season. “A day of small beginnings” marks the dim light of the first small candle in the Menorah, and the small steps we continue to take as we emerge from a year of pandemic and economic concerns. Just because the beginning is hard, doesn’t mean that we can’t keep taking steps. Like the small glow of the Menorah on the first night of Chanukah, a new light of inspiration and creativity is sparked within us, too. The lights of the Menorah grow, and we’re inspired by them to persist as time unfolds.

Life changes fast. Events in our life force us to acknowledge its blessings and its burdens. More often than not, I observe resilience in those who face its burdens. They don’t succumb to life’s hardships; they gather their resources and assemble a team to turn burdens into blessings. After small steps come bigger ones. Milestones are reached and resilience is replaced with fortitude. They look back and see how far they came. Finally, they share their strength with others now taking their own first small steps.

God plants within each of us more than we know. The hard part about beginnings is simply believing that what we need is already within us. The Chanukah lights and the prophet’s words should remind us that God’s spirit is with us to light our way and to inspire us to accomplish new and greater tasks.

On Sunday, December 6th, please come to Congregation Beth Israel, between 1:00pm and 3:00pm, to pick up your Chanukah gift bag in our drive-by Chanukah swag-bag give-away! We have wonderful things for you to enjoy at home and especially on Friday night, December 11th, when we’ll celebrate our Chanukah Family Service in the sanctuary at 6:30pm, via Livestream. We’ll still light the Maltz Menorah, tell the Chanukah story, and sing our festive songs.

At this season, God’s gifts of light are blessings that shine on forever. On behalf of all the rabbis, cantor, lay leaders and staff, my wife, Lisa, and I also wish you and yours a Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah.     

“Chanukah Lights Our Way” 3