December 18, 2012

By Rachel Goldman Neubauer

After Chanukah, especially when it is earlier in the year than Christmas, I find myself getting lost in the shuffle. Christmas takes over my surroundings. I can hardly visit a retail establishment—including the supermarket—without it being completely overt. I start to realize that the year only has a matter of days left (WHERE DID THE TIME GO??), and everything we had focused on during Chanukah—mainly this concept of focusing on light in the darkest time of the year—has been quickly forgotten.

How do you keep the spiritual light going? 

I don't have an answer for this, but the “first step” is at least admitting you have a problem…and let me tell you, I really struggle with this.  Why is it that it takes eight days to remind us of spiritual light, but takes far less time for us to completely forget it? 

We learn in Judaism that each human being has a Yetzer HaRa and a Yetzer Tov, an evil inclination and a good inclination. In each of us there is darkness; yet, in each of us there is also light.  The proportions are supposed to be equal—a person has as much light as he or she has darkness—so why does it seem like one is so much easier to grasp than the other?  Why is it that darkness can overwhelm and swallow a person, even when they have an equal amount of light in them? 

Chanukah has also provided me with a powerful image that seems to be the thing that gets me through times when I get pessimistic and I feel like I am swallowed in darkness.  A tiny candle on the first night of Chanukah, which is obviously far outnumbered by the amount of darkness that surrounds it, cannot be swallowed up by darkness.  Other forces like wind or water can put it out, but darkness itself cannot extinguish light.  The only way I can let my light be swallowed up by my darkness is IF I LET IT through other forces…even the smallest amount of light has a great fight.  Even the smallest spark can keep the darkness at bay.

I wish everyone an end of the year not necessarily filled with light, because that usually isn't realistic and sounds a little idealistic.  Instead, I wish for everyone to realize that even the smallest bit of light they have in their life can be, perhaps, their most powerful asset and their greatest ally.  Let it shine.

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