In the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, there is a saying: “The greatest revelation of Godliness is the light that emerges from the darkness.”
Our sages were teaching us that our task as human beings is to uncover, to reveal, those sparks of light, of love and of kindness, that reside in each and every human being. To be a Jew, they teach, is to be like a star bringing light into those places, those moments of darkness, of despair.
But stars do not eliminate the darkness. They only mitigate it. And this imagery is at the core of Chanukah. Winter looms. Days are getting shorter and nights longer. The moon has all but completely disappeared. All around us is darkness.
And so, we light a small fire. On the first night of Hanukkah but one candle. Two on the second night. And so forth for eight nights. Our Menorah never brings an end to the darkness but merely softens its effects.
The Book of Proverbs tells us, “The soul of man is the lamp of God.” (Proverbs 20:27) We all have the potential to be those sparks of light. No matter how fleeting, how precarious this light might be, it can help us to restore our hopes and our dreams.