Are you afraid of the dark?
If you are, you’re not alone.
Jewish tradition teaches that when Adam, the first human, noticed the nights getting longer and the days getting shorter he was afraid of the dark.
Adam drew the conclusion that the world was slowly being destroyed because of his sins. He fasted for eight days to repent and convince God to give the world another chance. On the ninth day, Adam noticed slightly more light and the days continued to grow longer; more light was entering the world and the darkness was abetting. Adam realized that God was not planning to destroy the world. And so, Adam established an eight-day holiday, a precursor to Chanukah, that celebrated light and the fact that the world wasn’t going to be plunged back into darkness. (Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zara, 8a)
This story, while about physical darkness, touches something deeper. Darkness represents the unknown. So while we don’t believe that God is planning to destroy the world each winter, we relate to Adam’s fear. Yet we know that we have the ability to add some light to the world to prevent the encroaching darkness and to see the possibilities for positive outcomes in the unknown. The lights in our windows over Chanukah are a sign to ourselves and every person who sees them that there is always a flicker of light in the darkness.
May we find more ways to fuel one another’s fires this Chanukah so that we may shine abundant light into the darkness – together.
Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez serves as the Jewish Camp Initiative manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta while shining light daily.