We hope you had an enjoyable and light-filled Chanukah, during the darkest time of the year, when the hours of daylight are shortest (at least in the northern hemisphere). It is in this context that the rabbis established the festival of Chanukah, in which we add light to the darkness and publicize an ancient miracle that symbolically, and literally, brought light into the world.
The famous rabbis Hillel and Shammai debated about how we should light the Chanukah candles. Shammai believed that we should start with the full eight candles at the beginning and gradually reduce them from day to day. Hillel, on the other hand, argued that we should start with just one light and increase them until we reach eight. Our tradition preserves both opinions, but ultimately we follow Hillel because, as the rabbis tell us, Ma’alin ba’Kodesh “we only go up in holiness, not down”. In other words, once the lights are lit, and the holiness they bring is present, we can’t reduce that holiness. We learn from this that we should always be striving for more holiness, and that our trajectory in life is up, not down.
No matter how cold or dark it is outside, in the societies we live in, or in our own lives, we start small, light a single candle and watch as it spreads its light and grows in influence so that its whole surroundings become enveloped in its glow.
We wish you a light-filled winter and the courage to keep striving to add holiness to your communities. For some more ideas about light that you can draw on throughout the year, or plan ahead for next year(!), see the resources below. Feel free to share them with your colleagues, friends and family.
The Yesod Team
Songs about Light
- Lights, A Fable about Chanukah– a beautiful animated video for children about the meaning of Chanukah.
- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offer 8 Thoughts for 8 Nights of Chanukah
- Fun animated videos about Chanukah, for kids and the young at heart from Bimbam
- In-depth ideas about the meaning of Chanukah from Aleph Beta
- And for some more ideas about Chanukah, listen to Yesod’s podcast by David Levin-Kruss
- Check out this Resource Pack full of Channukah-themed primary sources from the National Library of Israel.
View Resource of the Month Archive for resources posted in previous months.