The Neis, or miracle, of Chanukah took place in the Holy Land of Israel. Chanukah is the only holiday in the Jewish calendar which relives a story of our people taking place in the Land of Israel. The Torah of our people is alive, not something of the past that we simply look into to remind us of what was. We look in – to look out around us and deeper within ourselves to take these secrets of our history to help continue looking forward. They are the stories of the past – but these stories continue to live in our present. What happened 2,000 years ago – is happening now, all we have to do is open our eyes and look. It seems to be so dark – and not only in the Land of Israel, but for Jews everywhere. This darkness is reminiscent of the same darkness the Maccabees faced under the reign of the Greeks.
The miracle that happened for the Maccabees was finding the potential of light in the darkness. The Maccabees did not find light. They found a jug of pure oil – they rediscovered the existence of potential for light in the darkest of times. They looked deeper and found the potential within themselves. They found the potential in us. We are all that jug of oil discovered by the Maccabees. The Maccabees took that potential and lit it, and now it is our turn.
The Maccabees were not sure if they would make it out alive, but they knew that they had to put up a fight. This is what it means to be a Jew – to fight for light in the darkest of places – even while not knowing the consequences. As long as you have a goal, you keep fighting and keep pushing. They realized the potential they had and this is why they fought the Greeks, because they realized anything is possible when you are fighting with light on your side. Even when the odds are against you – there is always hope. By stepping up and going beyond their comfort zone they unlocked their true potential, ultimately saving the Jewish people.
The potential to make a difference is always here in the world – but it is hiding. It is up to us to take a deeper look to find the potential, to find that oil and to light it. We only need a little light to make the difference- one candle can dispel an entire room of darkness. It was not easy 2,000 years ago, this summer, or this past month, and it is definitely not any easier today. This summer, 53 holy souls had their lives taken away because they were fighting to bring more light into this world. Deep down they were all sick and tired of the darkness their nation has been facing for so long. Our job for thousands of years was never to do what is easy – but to do what is right.
It seems that tragedy is an endless pit our people keep falling into. Darkness keeps inviting us in because we don’t seem to realize our own light. Darkness is the absence of light. So don’t let the light be absent.
What we need to realize is that we are really all part of one army. We are the Maccabees. Some are on the front lines, some are behind, some are sitting at the borders refusing to move and some of us are here in a place devoid of spirituality yet still yearning to spread the light we inherently know. As our sages tell us, this holiday is about the true essence of fire – from one burning candle many candles are lit, yet its own light is not diminished.
Each of us must know: that a candle burns within us – a unique candle with its own distinct light. Each of us must understand: That we must strive to reveal the light from within and combine our lights into a great flame that will illuminate the world.
– Rav Kook