The central mitzvah of Chanukah is lighting the menorah. It lifts our spirits to see the candles ablaze, spreading light as winter approaches and the days grow shorter
Lighting the chanukiah fulfills the mitzvah of “pirsum nes,” commemorating the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. During Chanukah we celebrate the victory of the Maccabees against their oppressors.
There is another more personal significance to lighting the Chanukah menorah. A verse in Torah expresses a curse: “And you shall grope at noon as the blind person gropes in darkness.” (Deuteronomy 28.20) The Talmudic sage Rabbi Yossi asks “What difference does it make to a blind person whether it is light or dark?” He answers his question by telling a story: “I was walking on a pitch-black night when I saw a blind-person walking with a torch in hand. I asked, ‘Why do you carry the torch?’ The blind person replied: ‘As long as the torch is in my hand, people can see me and aid me.’” (Megillah 24b).
When we light our Chanukah menorah, it is not only to proclaim a miracle. It is also so that our loved ones and our community can see us more clearly.
We all live with measures of disability and challenge. We all need to be seen and helped along in life through the support of family and friends.
Let our Chanukah menorahs burn bright throughout this festival of light. May our hearts be strengthened by compassion and care. May we brighten this world through loving-kindness and hope.