Even a Small Star Shines in the Darkness

Even a Small Star Shines in the Darkness

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

A Danish proverb teaches, “Even a small star shines in the darkness.” The first night of Chanukah is Sunday evening, December 18th! In the darkness of the evening, one small candle plus the shammash (lead candle) will 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 concerns from economic and political insecurity to violence and antisemitism. Though the beginning is hard, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’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 Friday, December 23rd, at 6:30pm, we’ll gather in Wolff Toomim Hall for Shabbat Chanukah. At the center will be the Maltz Menorah surrounded by your own family menorah, which we encourage you to bring with candles. We’ll share our prayers, light the menorahs, and sing the songs of Chanukah. Then we’ll eat up all the latkes and jelly doughnuts!  

Let’s begin with Cantor Kenneth Feibush’s Installation with special guest Cantor Daniel Mutlu, on Friday, December 16, 2022, at 6:30pm.

Let’s gather again on Friday, December 23, 2022, at 6:30pm, to share the 6th night of Chanukah.


Even a Small Star Shines in the Darkness 3