This year, more than any other in recent history, we yearn for the light of Hanukkah. It has been a dark year, filled with plague, death, restrictions, social dissonance and difficult conversations.
The Torah tells us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s not easy to love someone who you know doesn’t love you back. How do we find that compassion, that empathy? How do we set aside our angst, our discomfort, our negative thought processes, to find tolerance, express respect and behave cordially?
This year, as we light each candle at sunset and increase the luminescence by lighting additional candles each day, let’s challenge ourselves to be kinder to people. Let’s take the teachings of Tikkun Olam (Healing the World) to heart and show tolerance of those whose ideas differ from ours.
Let’s respect every person who crosses our paths, knowing that they too were created B’tselem Elohim (in the image of G-d).
While we fry our latkes and play dreidel, let’s stop to think about those who don’t have the resources to celebrate holidays this year. Let’s spread our light by sharing what we have, donating to soup kitchens and food pantries, taking the warm clothes our children have outgrown to donation centers.
Hanukkah this year will be different from any year before. To spread the light, ask each member of your family what positive mitzvah (good deed) or kind act they performed that day, and then light the candles to reinforce the light they brought to the world.
If we all did this for the eight nights of Hanukkah, imagine how much lighter the world would be!
Sue Penn is a contributing writer to Kiddish Magazine.