Image: Menorah with two candles lit, on the first night. (Photo: NashvilleScene.com)
I love the first night of Chanukah. I love the bravery of the 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 has felt like a dark night for so long. Whatever your political persuasion, surely the state of American democracy is distressing. The fact that we cannot even agree on the facts is terrifying. A frightening virus has completely disrupted our lives for nine months, and while a vaccine has been developed (a miracle in itself) the logistics of a just distribution of that vaccine is a daunting prospect. Over 290,000 lie dead from coronavirus in the United States.
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 it stands for all the helpers out there in the world, who spread the light to others, often without credit for what they do. This year it stands for the healthcare workers, the journalists, the delivery people, the “essential workers” who do their work in danger and often for low pay.
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!