There is a Light
by Rabbi Roni Handler
I notice how the increased light in my window is mirrored in my body, in my own “inner chambers,” and I feel great anticipation for this new phase of life.
There is a verse from Proverbs (20:27) that tells us, “The spirit of a person is the candle of God, searching all the inner chambers.” Ner hashem, nishmat adam; hofes, kol-hadrei-vaten. I recently learned this verse as one of Rabbi Shefa Gold's chants. With my eyes closed, in a room full of voices harmonizing during the Festival of Lights, I finally allowed myself to turn inward, to search for light and to excavate my own inner chambers. I sang along and, in addition to my own inner flame, I began to focus on another light which is growing inside me every day. For the past several months I have been growing a new light, a new soul, in my “inner chambers.”
Being pregnant during Hanukkah has made me acutely aware of the act of counting. As I count each day and place another candle in the hanukkiyah, I also count one day closer to my due date. The counting helps me to keep track of my growing body and all the associated changes on a very practical level. Each week brings new developments for the baby and me, and I move one step closer to the day when I will be able to hold this new life in my arms. There is so much research and planning that goes into welcoming a new child into this world; Hanukkah is a welcome respite, a time to watch the candles burn down, to worry less about the details, and instead to focus on the miracle of life in general. I notice how the increased light in my window is mirrored in my body, in my own “inner chambers,” and I feel great anticipation for this new phase of life.
As we light the remaining Hanukkah candles and slowly move toward a full and bright hanukkiyah, I encourage you to think of these candles not just as pillars of wax, but as the actual light of God, a light that exists within each of us. Hanukkah is a reminder that this inner light exists all the time. But—much like our Hanukkah candles—our inner lights also need some tending to burn brightly and shine forth. How do you tend your own inner flames while the candles are burning?