There is an ancient debate as to how one should light the Hanukkiah. The House of Shammai says one should initially put all eight candles on the Hanukkiah and each night, take one candle off. The House of Hillel says the opposite. We should add candles as we celebrate each night of the holiday, increasing the light. The explanation given: as the week continues, we should ascend in holiness. Hillel’s tradition holds.
I would like to offer another reason. Often, when something is beautiful or wondrous, we see the glory of the entire picture. A perfect meal. A fantastic view. A kind person. A great event. But we sometimes forget that each moment is made up of hundreds and thousands of little moments building up to the experienced blessing. I remind each bnai mitzvah student that they are an accumulation of the people that came before them: relatives, teachers, strangers that enabled them to reach this occasion and shape them into the person they are today.
A brightly lit Hanukkiah dissociates the mind from the separated candles that together, creates warmth and hope. But each candle has its place. Each candle adds its own spark, allowing the Hanukkiah to combat the darkness with a combined strength and might. A candle is added each night of Hanukkah to remind us, our unique spirit joins another to offer an eternal, holy, extraordinary light.
One can look at the entirety of the Hanukkiah and be wowed by the awesome nature of a light display. But tonight, look at candle by candle, remembering that our internal light is nourished by an amalgamation of sparks. And moreover, God’s light is fueled by each of ours.
Candle by candle…that is how God’s light comes into being.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.