Rabbi Aaron Bergman shared an important teaching about Chanukah last week in the name of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook who was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of British Mandatory Palestine, the founder of Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav Kook, a great Jewish thinker, Halakhist, Kabbalist and a renowned Torah scholar.
Rav Kook asked the question that since we light Chanukah lights (candles, oil, etc.) multiple nights and multiple lights each night after the first, why is it that we recite the blessing, “…who sanctified us with His mitzvoth and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light?” In other words, why is the blessing phrased in the singular and not the plural?
Rav Kook’s answer is a beautiful one. He taught that each individual has the potential to be his or her own light and source of enlightenment in fulfillment of the mission and purpose of the Jewish People to be a light to the world. While the light for each night might be a separate light, when lit, they form a single source of light and brightness to chase the darkness from the world. The light is symbolic of God’s holiness.
The Jewish People are stronger through our unity and our unity brings forth holiness. Strife and dissension among the Jewish People is a distraction that blocks holiness.
When we bless the multiple candles as one, we pray for a time when the Jewish People will be a united force for good just as the candles, though many, still shine as one.
May each of our candles shine brightly during this Chanukah of 5777 and may we be privileged to witness the holiness and blessing that unity can bring.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameyach,
P.S. There will not be regular Shabbat Torah Study at Adat Shalom this Shabbat, but the spiritual experience and connections we share Shabbat mornings still await you!