Parsha: Vayeishev (2023)


As we kindle the Chanukah lights this year, and gaze at its flames, we can reflect on its message to us as a people.

One very important element of the Chanukah lights is “Pirsumei Nisa” (publicity of the miracle).
There is a Halachik requirement to display the lights in a way that all can see, so others can also reflect on G-d’s miracles as well.

Chanukah this year comes at a time when many of us feel an extra sense of Jewish pride. The flames of Chanukah, reminds us to always be proud of our Jewish identity.

But why flames? Perhaps we can show pride through something else, why the emphasis on a candle?

There is something unique about fire that we don’t really find by any other physical entity.

When I give water to a friend, I have diminished my own amount of water. When I give money, food, or clothing, I now have less than I had before. Eventually I can run out of resources. Physical items slowly diminish. It is only in the spiritual dimension, that we see, that the spiritual result of giving gets increased.

This is why a flame is so unique. It is the only physical reality that is in tune with the spiritual. One flame can light countless other candles. As it lights each one, it doesn’t get weaker or smaller. Indeed, when two flames meet, they grow stronger together.

This is why a Mitzvah is compared to a Candle. One good deed can have an everlasting effect. The flame teaches us the power of a Mitzvah. When we do a Mitzvah, we can close our eyes and imagine its power being like a flame.

As we look into those flames and reflect, let’s take on another Mitzvah and bring more everlasting light to the world.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Zalman and Esty