‘I’m sorry we broke into the nursery’ read the sign, ‘But we needed to water the plants. With love, the troops.’ Returning after the October 7th massacre and evacuation of Kibbutz Be’eri, the owners of the Kibbutz’s small plant nursery had expected to find a withered tangle of the plants that they had so lovingly tended. Instead, they opened the doors to a blossoming paradise, and a loving letter from their brothers in arms.
At Aroma café in Beit Shemesh, up to 150 volunteers show up daily to prepare sandwiches to be delivered to soldiers throughout the country. Its owner, Yariv Shefa, foots the bill of preparing and distributing 60,000 sandwiches weekly.
Over 100,000 pairs of olive green tzitzit have been donated to soldiers, many of whom are wearing them for the first time ever. The very soldiers who can no longer eat in restaurants without civilians vying for the opportunity to pay for their meals.
Over one hundred million dollars have been raised by Jews around the world to support the army and the people of Israel, and every conceivable item and product has been donated. Millions of people have taken something upon themselves for the merit of our brothers and sisters at war.
And everywhere, everywhere, Jews of all colors and stripes join to sing and dance together, defiant in the face of annihilation.
Amidst the darkness, I see the light.
As a nation, we live in parts; scattered and dispersed throughout the continents. And sometimes, even in our homeland, we are fragmented and split. Our differences shine stronger than our similarities. The chasms between us seem insurmountable. Our voice becomes many voices, raised in dissent. Yet the instant darkness falls, the cracks disappear. Our nation unites and stands stronger than ever. But it took darkness to bring us together. It took darkness to show us our light.
The Greeks too, tried to destroy our light. They tried to force us to disband, to relinquish our Jewish identity and our nation, to make us fade into the melting pot of their ideology. But on Chanuka, the Maccabees waged war for this very light, for the flickering flame of our souls, for the fire that is the heartbeat of the Jewish nation. They fought for it until they reached the temple, where they embarked on a quest to light up the world with the Menorah there. And from amidst the ruins and devastation, they found one tiny bottle of sealed, pure olive oil and they lit that light. And their light sprung forth once again, a light so loved by G-d that light for one day became light for eight days.
And now, centuries later, the forces of darkness arise once again to eliminate our light. But despite that, in the coldness of the exile, in the face of those who look to destroy us, we light the lights of the menorah in our own homes. And we place them in the windows of our houses, facing outwards into the dark. Inside our homes, there is already light. Inside our homes, we are not even permitted to use the lights of the menorah for ourselves. Instead, we place them where they can shine out into the darkness, so that we can share our light with those who have none. Just like our nation always has done and just like we always will do.
When night has not yet fallen, the moon cannot shine. Indeed, it is when the darkness descends that the light grows strong. It’s nighttime now, and darkness walks. And therefore, now is when we can choose to hold forth our light, to send out a beacon of hope for all those who despair. Proudly, defiantly, in the windows of our homes, we will place our menorah, and every night we will light one more light. And from the millions of flickering lights reflected from windows across the world, we will create a fiery glow which will light up the darkness which surrounds us.