In the very first chapter of Braishit (Genesis), verse 3, we read ” God said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.’
God saw that the light was good……. God called to the light ‘Day’ …..” Hashem created the world by a spoken word, (“Let there be light”) and thus was the universe born. Grammatically, I am not able to understand why the phrase “to the light” ( la-0r) is written, rather than simply “the light” (ha-Or). It remains for greater scholars to reply.
In H. L. Selig’s THE ETERNAL FOUNT, commentaries of each parasha, he noted that “for man to be enabled to enjoy the light of day, he must first live through a period of night”. Hullin (83) informs us that “when the first day is mentioned in the creation story, it is made clear that it follows after the night, insomuch as it is written ‘And there was evening and there was morning the first day”.
This teaches us a very important lesson. We must go through periods of darkness and despair in order that we may appreciate the blessing of light and hope.
The Talmud (Avodah Zara 8) tells how frightened Adam was when he saw the sun setting for the first time. He saw light disappearing and was overcome with fear and he sat and wept all through the night. But when he saw the sun rise the next morning, he declared that this must be the custom of the universe and he rose up and sacrificed an ox. Light is indeed a blessing.
In Jewish tradition, the holiday of Chanukah is called Chag Ha-Oorim, the festival of lights. We kindle lights in our homes for eight nights in remembrance of the miracle that occured in 167 BCE.
A great miracle happened here. From the darkness of destruction and impurity, the blessing of light reappeared.
It is the light of Chanukah which enlightens our Jewish lives. The flames which we show to the world proclaim our survival as a people, a people who inspired mankind by the light of Torah.
We are presently going through a period of great darkness. Fear of the unknown dangers creates anxiety but not despair. We are a people who have survived for centuries because we were motivated and guided by the belief that better days were awaiting us. We have never lost hope.
Our national anthem, Hatikva, is the very spirit of the hope for which we have dreamed and struggled. Let us maintain our courage, our faith, our belief in better times, and let us share and inspire others with our hope. “Al yipol ruchachem”… never let your spirits fall.
Makkabim anachnu…..ba yevanim nilchamnu v’lanu ha nitzachon… we were the Maccabees…we fought against the Syrian Greeks and we won the victory. Anachnu b’nai ha Makkabim..lochamim neged oyvainu v’lanu ha nitzachon… we are the sons of the Maccabees… we fight against our enemies and we will be victorious.
On this holiday we greet one another with the words “ora v’simcha b’chag ha-oorim”…. let there be light and gladness on this festival of lights. May the light of wisdom ever guide us through dark days that we may emerge mi choshech l’or…from darkness to light. Blessed be the light, first of God’s creation. Chag haChanukah samayach l’koolam. A joyous festival of re-dedication to all.