Maggid Books just published “Days are Coming” by Sivan Rahav-Meir, an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and inspiring book translated from Hebrew by Yehoshua Siskin. The book has many insightful ideas from sages, Bible commentators, and others regarding Jewish holidays, days following the holidays, and times when we remember people who taught us significant lessons that can improve our lives and make them enjoyable, such as the biblical matriarch Rachel and the philosopher Maimonides.
Concerning the holiday of Shavuot, for example, she tells how Dr. Yael Ziegler, a college lecturer on the Bible, notes the practice of reading the biblical book Ruth that has no huge headlines, only simple everyday acts. It teaches us to look deeper at minor details and events because they could have eternal significance. She also tells us that Rabbi Kook, Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, explained that differences are good, every person has a unique connection to the Torah, and each is important.
Regarding Hanukka, she reminds us of the Hasidic saying, “We need to listen to what the candles are telling us.” She discusses six of the many lessons. (1) Unlike other holidays, Hanukka is not biblical. The sages developed its laws and customs. The holiday teaches the importance of tradition. (2) We light the candles in the evening when darkness falls, reminding us that darkness is part of life. We need to prepare for it and bring it light. (3) We ignite candles to be seen at home and outside. We should strive to bring light to ourselves and others outside. (4) We light an additional candle every night to inspire us to move forward and do more each day. (5) The candles are set in a particular place and should not be moved. So too, a Jew should be cautious not to step away from Jewish values. (6) Once we light the candles, they shine on their own. We must be vigilant that the values we teach others are so meaningful that they won’t be ignored in the future.
The holiday of Hanukka is also a time of thanksgiving when we are prompted to pay attention to the small details in our lives, appreciate every kindness, and ensure that nothing good goes unnoticed or unfelt. We should not think that light is only found elsewhere. It can be found at home. And when we begin by lighting up our homes, our light will pour out and flood the streets of our cities.