As we celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, the bright light of holiness illuminates our dark world. After Hashem created the Heavens and the Earth, the very first thing He said was, “Let there be light.” Hashem created light right away even though He did not place the sun in the sky until the fourth day.
The world and the Torah were created so that the light of G-dliness would shine. The Torah is often referred to as Torah Ohr, the Torah of light. Light dispels the darkness and the unknown; light gives clarity and understanding. The message of Chanukah is the same – we light up the outside world and illuminate the darkness. One small flame can chase away a lot of darkness and give us clarity and understanding.
Our Sages tell us that there are two ways that Hashem can become known in the world. The first way is through consistency – the sun rises and sets each day and that is the work of Hashem. The second way is through a nes (miracle) or when something extraordinary happens. For example, the wildfires in California and the tsunami in the Far East showed us the strength of Hashem through fire and water. An historic election, an economic meltdown, an unprecedented assault on the biggest kosher slaughterhouse…events like this need a little light to give us clarity and understanding.
There is a famous story told about the Baal Shem Tov. One night the flame in his lantern was about to burn out and no extra fuel was available. Well aware that his Rebbe was exceedingly fond of light, his attendant began to panic. “Go outside and snap off some icicles hanging from the roof,” instructed the Baal Shem Tov, “and light them!” The attendant rushed outside, grabbing the large icicles that hung on the sides of the roof. After bringing them inside, the attendant held a match to the icicles and watched in amazement as the frozen water caught flame and burned brightly!
As we see, light can come from many different places. We all have to do our part to increase light – read about Chassidus Mivueres spreading the light through Torah, the Sephardic Angel Fund spreading the light through chessed, and see the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, in conjunction with the OK, spreading the light of kashrus to the chefs of tomorrow. At the OK, we strive to be lamplighters through our annual kashrus conference for OK mashgichim. We also offer many workshops and education classes for children and adults.
In addition, delve into the fascinating journal account of a day in the life of OK Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Don Yoel Levy. Like the story of Chanukah, find out what is behind the kosher seal/symbol on your favorite product with Rabbi Chanowitz’s insightful article, “When the Seal is Broken”.
The Torah tells us that olive oil gives off the purest light, but an olive has to be squeezed to collect the oil. When we feel like the world around us is squeezing us, it helps to remember that we are being squeezed in preparation for the ultimate light of Moshiach.
Best Wishes for a Freilichen and Lichteken Chanukah,
Rabbi Chaim Fogelman