That Elusive Warmth and Light

So Chanukah is over and the lights of the Menorah have gone dark. Or have they?

When my parents were newly married and preparing to build their new home together, they merited to have a private audience with the Rebbe for a few precious moments of his counsel and blessing at this pivotal moment in their lives. One of the things he told them then was that “If you will make life warm and bright for others, then G-d will fill your own lives with warmth and light”.

Judaism provides us with small oases of joy, happiness, celebration – bright moments in life! Who doesn’t love the holidays that we get to spend with each other? Who doesn’t look forward to the Shabbat in order to tap into all the R+R that it provides? Who doesn’t enjoy a nice Simcha in the company of family and friends?

But what happens AFTERWARDS? What happens when the Menorah – with all its light and warmth – is cleaned up, washed down and stored away until next year? The post-holiday blues can really get you down … some of us more than others, but all of us experience a depressing moment occasionally, especially when we move from a time of celebration into the mundane and brutal daily grind.

And THAT my friend, is exactly when we need to remember that the messages of our Torah and the celebrations we observe are not meant to be experienced only at the moment. Rather, we are meant to tap into the eternal wellspring of light and warmth that lies within our souls to bring the light of Chanukah into the year ahead. And the way we do that – ironically – is by reaching outside of ourselves and doing a small act, a gesture, that will make life warm and bright for someone who can use it.

So if you’re ever in the need of a boost of Chanukah light, of some good Jewish joy, of a boost of inspiration – there is a simple and quick way to get it: Just give it to someone else.

About the Author
Rabbi Yossi Deren was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1973, lived in Western Massachusetts through the '80s and today serves as the Spiritual Leader and Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich, Connecticut. Together with his wife Maryashie, they founded the synagogue-center in 1996 as Emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.