I love seeing pictures of my friends’ Hanukkah candles on Facebook. The light is both comforting and motivating. Comforting, in that the light is more than just the light of candles. It is the or haganuz, the light of creation burning in us, around us, and through us.
The light is also motivating as a reminder that our job is not only to be light, but to fight darkness like the Maccabees did. The Maccabees had the attribute of Shimon burning in them, which was the righteous desire and ability to destroy those who wanted to destroy them.
Just as a mother instinctively will summon up remarkable strength when anyone and anything wants to injure her child, so the Jewish people must summon the courage to confront and challenge those individuals and groups whose ideologies attempt to destroy her and undermine her eternal expression and indisputable claim. – Nechama Sarah G. Nadborny
The Maccabees had this noble kind of courage and zealousness, to say the least. And thank God, so many Jews today still have this kind of courage and zealousness.
But I also saw a quote on Facebook that reminded me that although fighting is a necessary part of life, fighting without balance can destroy me instead of destroying what I’m fighting against:
Fighting evil is a very noble and necessary activity when it must be done. But it is not our main mission in life. Our main mission is to bring in more light. – Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
I sometimes identify more with evil than I do light, in the sense that my identity gets too wrapped up in fighting against evil. I forget that I am a noun, light, who partakes in the verb fighting. I forget that a light who sometimes fights is more powerful than a fighter who is sometimes a light. The lights of Hanukkah remind me of that balance.
One is encouraged to spend time gazing at the lights of the Hanukkah candles. Maybe for “doers” and “fighters” this can seem like a waste of time or even seem silly. But it’s a time to pause. A time to come out of the boxing ring of life and into the corner between rounds. A time to remind ourselves that hatred as a driving force can’t be what sustains a fight long-term without causing damage to us and our cause. A time to remember to love what and who we are fighting for harder than we hate what or who we are fighting against.
There is a time to fight.
There is a time to be light.
There is a time to hate.
There is a time to love harder.
Now is that time.