Miketz — Genesis 41:1-44:17, The Parashat Hashavua for Saturday, December 8, 2018

We celebrate Hanukkah in the depths of winter, the darkest time of the year. In the face of darkness and cold we light candles and make a small light, to remind us to never give up hope. In the 2nd Century BCE a small group of Judean priests, the Maccabees, rose in revolt against the powerful Selucid Empire to restore the right for Jews to worship. It was also a battle against the Jews disappearing into the Hellenistic world. The Maccabees won against all odds. We are here today because of their audacity, courage, and perseverance. So we light candles to remember their example. Each night we add one more candle until our light grows from one to eight, as our great sage Hillel taught, “we always increase holiness.” (Shabbat 21b) We live in difficult times. The darkness of bigotry, hatred and intolerance, seem to be on the rise. The plights of the needy, the suffering, the weak and the vulnerable inspire cruel government policies at home and around the world. Hanukkah reminds us to stand up against this hatred and intolerance with the light of our own righteous acts. As one of my favorite Hanukkah song goes, “Each of us is one small light and together we shine bright.” This Hanukkah let us illuminate the darkness with our Hanukkah candles and throughout the year let us illuminate the world with our acts of loving kindness.