Featured in local papers on Thursday, December 6, 2001. Copyright 2001 by Yosef Y. Polter

A little light dispels much darkness

The spiritual darkness that descended on September 11 has been unparalleled in recent history.  Indeed, the events in Israel this past weekend also portray a world of mindless cruelty. We must realize that evil can only exist when there is a vacuum.  One need not do anything to create a dark room; the absence of light fosters darkness.  Similarly, the mere lack of cultivation allows for, and breeds, unwanted weeds.  This is a law of nature.  Only where there is physical and spiritual complacency can negativism and wickedness wreak havoc.

Certainly there are times when directly fighting evil is absolutely necessary, but we can take additional actions as well.  When we enter a dark room we don't need to wrestle with the darkness to remove it.  We just need to turn on the lights - do more good - and the darkness vanishes.

The Holiday of Chanukah (Sunday evening, December 9, through Monday, December 17) has a very simple, but important, messages: a little light dispels much darkness. 

In fact, the Talmud discusses whether we should light eight candles the first night, symbolizing the number of days yet to go in the holiday and, each subsequent night, light one fewer.  Or, light one candle the first night and add one more candle on each of the following nights. The final conclusion is to light one candle the first night, two the second night, and so on.  The reason for this decision is: when dealing with light, goodness, and holiness, we should constantly increase and advance to higher levels.  The more we illuminate the world with acts of goodness and kindness, the more we keep out depravity and hate.  Darkness cannot coexist with light.  (Though Chanukah lights are holy and should not physically be used for their light, the spiritual message is the same.)

Let us all continue to add light in the world through more deeds of kindness, charity, and love.  May we merit, speedily in our days, the era of true peace when evil and darkness will be banished forever and when the knowledge of G‑d will fill the world like the ocean waters cover the sea bed.
Rabbi Polter is the director of the Chabad Jewish Center located at 148 Great Road in Acton.  Chanukah "First Light" celebration on Sunday, December 9.  6:00 pm, community menorah lighting featuring a ten-foot menorah followed by latkes, drinks, and more.  All are invited free of charge.  Earlier, at 4:00 pm, a children's program will be held with crafts, games, and more.  Price: $7 per child.  For more information, please call (978)929-2513 or 758-8994.  Also visit www.chabadofacton.com