Doron Kornbluth



Chanukah Lights or Light

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The lights of Chanukah this year include some lights we’d rather not have: Major Fire in Israel. Almost forty people killed. Huge areas of land burned.   Fire is still raging. Thousands evacuated. 

This tragedy – as well as other communal challenges we face and any personal difficulties a person may be struggling with – makes the holiday of Chanukah hard to understand.

Think about it. The Maccabean Revolt was a great success - saving Judaism, rededicating the Temple, and inspiring generations. Still, the Hashmonean dynasty - within only a couple of generations - descended into corruption and infighting. The Romans entered Israel and our independence didn’t really last that long - just over two hundred years until the Temple was destroyed and millions were killed and exiled. 

All this begs an age-old Chanukah question: what is there to be so happy about? 

Chanukah is known as the Festival of Lights, not the festival of Light. What’s the difference? Light implies daytime. Summer. Clarity. Pure goodness and blessing. You don’t need to kindle lights when it is light outside. Everything is wonderful.

But Chanukah occurred in the winter for a reason. It is dark outside. It is starting to get cold. There are real problems in the world – national, communal, and individual.  Nevertheless, we light lights.  A few little candles create an amazing change: All is not dark. There is hope. Things change. And even in the midst of the darkness, there are points of light.

The simple message of Chanukah is well-known: the Jews are persecuted and Judaism is at risk. The Maccabees stand up for Judaism and G-d helps them win a miraculous victory. This message is true and important.

In this newsletter, I’ve shared what I think is another, perhaps deeper message. Chanukah is NOT the festival of light, rather the Festival of Lights. The point: Yes, there is darkness. Yes, there are problems – some of them serious and scary. But Chanukah reminds us that not all is bad. There are some good things happening as well. There are some sources of light. There is reason to be happy. At its deepest level, there IS hope. 

Wishing a Happy Chanukah to all my readers

Best regards




Practical points: (a) welcome to all new readers; (b) please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or comments; (c) spread the word to your friends – sign up at; (d) check out archives on Chanukah and a host of other topics at ; (e) Of course, look online for ways you can help the victims of the fire in Israel.

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