When constructing the Hanukkah ritual, the sages of the Talmud entertain two possible methods of lighting a Menorah. One is ro begin Hanukkah by lighting all eight candles on the first night and subsequently removing one candle from the Menorah nightly. The other option — the one we practice — is to add a candle each night over the course of the holiday. On the surface, this debate might seem insignificant, but it actually cuts to the heart of the role Hanukkah plays in our lives and the mission we are called upon to realize.
At the darkest point of the year, the light of Hanukkah is there when we need it most, bringing a sense of warmth and comfort to an otherwise cold and worrisome season. But if that light were to suddenly diminish, our comfort would subside along with it. So we begin the holiday by lighting one candle and adding an additional one each night rather than starting with eight candles and slowly removing them. Because on Hanukkah we are tasked with adding light to the world, not taking it away.
Right now, our world feels darker than ever, but “The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle.” (Irving Greenberg). We hope our Hanukkah and mental health resources can help brighten up your life this Hanukkah —and help create a brighter world for everyone.