First Night: Bravery

I love the first night of Chanukah. I love the bravery of two little lights, the shamash (“helper”) candle and the 1st candle. The dark is so very dark, and those little lights shine brightly against it.

The world feels like a dark night lately. For the past several days I’ve laid in bed, reading the increasingly horrifying details of murders and murder attempts all over the world: Colorado Springs, Jerusalem, San Bernardino, London, Beirut, Cairo.  I’ve read so much about hate that I’m sick with it. I’ve read hateful words coming from so many frightened people.

Tonight I’m going to take comfort in two little candles. One lights, the other is lit. We never have one without the other. There is never a lone candle in the dark.

In some ways, the shamash is the “extra” candle. It isn’t counted, doesn’t get credit for its light. But in another, it stands for all the helpers out there in the world, who spread the light to others, often without credit for what they do.

I will remind myself that none of us is ever a lone candle in the dark. There are always other lights, and I will focus my eyes on them as I read the news and make my way through social media.  Fred Rogers suggested that the best way to navigate a scary world is to “Look for the helpers.” I’m going to look for the people who are spreading the light.

Chag urim sameach – Happy holiday of lights!

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “First Night: Bravery”

  1. I was just looking for a wonderful reading to share before we light our first candle of the season. Thank you! Your words are perfect!

  2. Chag Sameach! Thank you for all you do! Come to our Bat Mitvah service on Dec 19th at Temple Isaiah. Can’t believe it is here already!

  3. thank you, it is too easy to be overwhelmed, good to remember there are many more good deed doers than the others!! You are that ‘helping’ light, thank you, Rabbi Adar.

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