Chanukah is the Festival of Lights. It recalls the miraculous victory, more than 2,000 years ago, of a militarily weak yet spiritually strong Jewish people over the large and mighty forces of a ruthless enemy that had inundated the Holy Land and threatened to mask the land of Israel and its people with darkness.
The miraculous military victory, culminated with the rededication of the Holy Temple and the kindling of the menorah, is celebrated by lighting the menorah as a symbol of the triumph of freedom over oppression and light over darkness. Each good deed we do, each flame of the menorah that we light, adds to the goodness and the light of the world. The lights on the menorah remind us that “a little light can dispel a lot of darkness”.
We light the menorah in our homes to illuminate our everyday lives with these spiritual lights. But, even though it begins at home, it does not stop there. This is the true nature of light, to brighten the world all around it. The Chanukah lights are specifically meant to brighten and illuminate the “outside,” symbolically implying that our mission is to bring light especially to those areas of life and of the world that may still be in darkness.
This message takes on added significance this year, as it is the year traditionally known as “Hakhel,” which was celebrated by every Jewish man, woman and child, coming to the Temple to share in celebration and unity. We desperately need more unity and more light in this often dark world in which we live. Let us hope and pray that this message of Chanukah will illuminate and brighten the everyday life of every single one of us personally, and of our society in general.
In this vein, I encourage everyone to join Mayor Greg Fischer and myself on the eve of Chanukah for a grand Jewish Unity Celebration at Fourth Street Live! in Downtown Louisville on Sunday, December 6, at 4 p.m. The menorah will be lit by the Mayor at 5:45 p.m.
A public menorah lighting will also be sponsored at The Paddock Shops on Monday, December 7, at 6 p.m.; The Outlets of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville on Thursday, December 10, at 6 p.m., and there will be a bonfire Havdalah menorah lighting party at Chabad House on Saturday, December 12, at 7 p.m.
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Shabbat candles should be lit on Fridays, November 20 at 5:09 p.m., November 27 at 5:06 p.m., December 4 at 5:05 p.m., December 11 at 5:05 p.m., December 18 at 5:07 p.m. and December 25 at 5:10 p.m.
Editor’s note: Rabbi Chaim Litvin, a local emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, has volunteered to provide Torah commentaries for Community.