Chanukah is called the festival of lights, referring to the many candles kindled in celebration of the holiday, and in recollection of the original menorah whose lights burned longer than the Maccabees expected. Therefore, these candles are different from all other candles as they have no purpose for us other than to bask in their light, in their warmth, and in the story they continue to evoke.
This year, Chanukah is especially challenging. We worry about our country, which is becoming increasingly polarized, and we worry about the safety and security of Israel. This year, more than ever, we need the vision that comes from looking at things in the light of our Chanukah candles. We need to see the possibility where most see none, envision options while most bemoan their absence.
Here is how we can have courage and hope, as did our ancestors: Candlelight softens the hard edges; it warms and invites imagination. People come together and often, in a moment of quiet, see the very best in themselves and each other when gathered around an open flame.
Allow yourself to see the Chanukah light. By the glow of the candles, think about a seemingly insurmountable challenge in your life, in the life our country, in the life of Israel, or of the Jewish people. Try to imagine a response and how you might contribute to it.
That is what the Maccabees did more than 2,000 years ago. They dared to create light when others deemed it impossible. Chanukah comes each year to remind us that we can do the same.
Peter Berg is the senior rabbi of The Temple