Lazer Gurkow

The Light Keeper

Boston Light, the first lighthouse to be built in what would become the United States was also the last lighthouse to have an official keeper. Sally Snowman stepped down from the role as the world slipped into 2024.

Little Brewster, a tiny island near Boston, has been home to Boston Light since 1716. The lighthouse will continue to serve, but it will join its sister lighthouses across the country in complete automation. Lighthouses continue to dot our waterways. Their beacons guide lonely captains on dark, stormy nights. Their light offers comfort, warmth, and cheer to a tempest of fearful hearts, but no one kindles or preserves them. They operate without human intervention.

There is another kind of lighthouse that continues to shine, but this one requires human effort. “For the Commandment is a candle, and the Torah is a light” (Proverbs 6:23). These Divine lights burn for eternity, but they only enter our hearts if we open the door. For this light to make a real-world difference and to lead us on the path of righteousness, we need to open our hearts and souls.

Wax and wick do not a candle make until we strike a match. The Torah and its commandments can’t guide us unless we study and observe them. G-d gave us the candle and the wax, but He placed the match in our hands. If we study the Torah with passion and embrace our Judaism with enthusiasm, its light will shine in our hearts and souls.

As the last lighthouse keeper steps down, we must ask ourselves, who will keep G-d’s lighthouse? Will we strike that match? Will we open our hearts and minds to its flame?

Categorical Light
We might serve as kindlers, but the light is Divine. As G-d is eternal and categorical, so is His Torah and its moral code. Human codes are malleable. Mores and opinions, like fashions and styles, shift with the wind and sway with the vagaries of human opinion. But G-d’s morals are absolute.

They tell the story of a powerful battleship sailing through the night. The captain spies a light directly in its path and instructs the oncoming ship to change course. The responding message insists that the battleship change course. Enraged, the captain radios, “I am a battleship with the power to obliterate you; you change course.” The return message is not long in coming. “I am a lighthouse, your call.”

The Torah is a lighthouse that never changes course. Other ships are larger, faster, fancier, and nimbler, but the Torah is enduring—written by an unchanging G-d.

About the Author
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow, a renowned lecturer, serves as Rabbi to Congregation Beth Tefilah in London Ontario. He is a member of the curriculum development team at Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and is the author of two books and nearly a thousand online essays. You can find his work at
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