So the days are short, we all wear Corona masks, and my car battery dies in the parking lot of Malcha Mall, facing a tree with cars on both sides.
Enter Alex B, my Yedidim car rescue Candle – an Oleh from Minsk who coordinates all of Jerusalem’s Yedidim volunteers. This non-profit receives 7000 car assistance calls a month, including kids locked in vehicles and elderly in need of help during Corona. Alex arrived within five minutes and stayed with me for over an hour and a half, until a brand new battery was installed and I could drive off safely. He wouldn’t let me take his photo, but finally agreed to take one of the fancy sufganiyot that I had bought for the kids. And before we lit candles yesterday, I gave them a contribution, thankful for the kind people in this world whose goal is to spread light.
We light a lot of candles in Jewish tradition – Shabbatot, holidays, Havdala, yahrzeits too. I light 8 candles every Erev Shabbat, for Zeev and I, and one for each child.
Judaism is a faith of optimism and pro-activism, rooted in our deep history, and I think that candles are a metaphor for everything we are meant to be in this world.
The way olive oil rises to the top of any liquid, the way a many-colored flame dances and always reaches upwards, we each have this divine, personal light with which we must illuminate and elevate our surroundings in all we do.
When we are simply kind to someone, when we pay a worker on time, when we pray for a friend’s recovery from illness or success in business or help them in finding love – our candles are out there in the world.
When I sing, write, share (including this pre-Shabbat piece)- my candle shines. The world needs each of our unique lights.
Even as Yosef in this Parsha is brought down, down, down – to the pit, to Egypt, to Potiphar’s dungeon – his wisdom, faith, and morality make him shine above all others, raising him to the position of “Mashbir” – one who physically sustains an entire empire.
When we light candles in the deepest winter nights of Chanukah, Corona, closures and uncertainty, adding one flame each night, “מוסיף והולך” – we make the basic point that as individuals and as a People, our very essence is to increase light.