Spiritual life: Only light can chase away darkness
PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 December 2018
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, recalls the victory – more than 2,100 years ago – of a militarily weak but spiritually strong Jewish people over the mighty forces of a ruthless enemy that had overrun the Holy Land and threatened to engulf the land and its people in darkness.
The miraculous victory – culminating with the rededication of the Sanctuary in Jerusalem and the rekindling of the Menorah which had been desecrated and extinguished by the enemy – has been celebrated annually ever since.
During these eight days of Chanukah, we light the Menorah, a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.
It is indeed a timely message, for the forces of darkness are as much present nowadays as they were then. Moreover, the danger does not come exclusively from outside. Often it lurks close to home, in the form of insidious erosion of time-honoured values and principles, which are at the foundation of any decent human society.
Needless to say, darkness can be chased away only by illumination, however small. The Chanukah lights remind us in a most obvious way that illumination begins at home, within oneself and one’s family, by increasing and intensifying the light of the Torah and good deeds in the everyday experience.
However, although it begins at home, it mustn’t stop there.
Such is the nature of light that when one kindles a light for one’s own benefit, it benefits also all who are in the vicinity.