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Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Itzchak Evan-Shayish
Dedicated to sharing Rav Kook's lights with the world.

Rav Kook on Chanukah: Kindling The Individual And Universal Light

The people of Israel are lighting the eight lights of Chanukah everywhere.

The Talmud recounts the original disagreement between the schools of Shammai and Hillel about the proper order of kindling:“Beit Shammai say: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases.  And Beit Hillel say: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases.” (Shabbat 21b)

Should we light from eight to one or one to eight? There is a rich halachic discussion as to the core reason for the dispute and why we follow Beit Hillel’s opinion.

Rav Avraham Itzchak HaCohen Kook ZT’L offered a deep insight that is very relevant to Israel and the world.

He explained that the dispute between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel rests upon two  fundamentally different perspectives on the process of rectification and unification.

The Beit Shammai directive to begin with eight different lights and reduce until there is  only 1 implies that shalom-peace and shleimut-wholeness will come through the different ways merging into one way that is practiced by all.

On the other hand, Beit Hillel teaches that we must increase the number of lights until we light eight unique lights. This perspective implies that rectification and wholeness requires the multiplicity of individual lights. Each of us is invited and required to kindle our unique light in order to help fully illuminate the world. The world becomes more illuminated as more individual lights are kindled. We are not here to be the same; we are here to shine the light of our unique soul into the world. Thus we contribute to the overall light.

And yet the blessing preceding the kindling is that we are lighting the ner-light of Chanukah, not the nerot-lights of Chanukah. Rav Kook explains that this teaches us that we must understand that all the different lights are actually parts of the one great light of existence.

And thus: “The uniqueness of the inner soul, in its own authenticity, is the highest expression of the seed of divine light…from which will bud and blossom the fruit of the tree of life…Let everyone express truthfully whatever their soul reveals to them…Out of such sparks torches of light will be assembled. They will illuminate the whole world…Out of each fragment of inner truth will the great truth emerge.” (Orot HaKodesh 1:177,168)

May each of us be blessed to kindle and shine our soul’s light fully. And thus illuminate all humankind and existence.

BeMhera BeYamenu-Quickly In Our Days.

Chag Orot Sameach-A Joyful Festival of Lights to all.

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Prepared by Rabbi Itzcak Evan-Shayish, www.haorot.com

About the Author
Rabbi Itzchak Evan-Shayish (Marmorstein) is a passionate student of the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865- 1935) He is doing pioneering work in bringing Rav Kook to the public through classes, writings and creative musical and dramatic presentations in Israel and all over the world. He is the gabbai and educator at Beit HaRav Kook Synagogue in Jerusalem. He is the chairman of Ohr LeRayah, a Jerusalem based organization dedicated to sharing the universal teachings of Rav Kook with the whole world. (www.haorot.com). He is a musmach of Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Z"L , Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Z’L and Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi Z'L.
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