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 In Hashavua Article

“A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness” – Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi

In the summer after I became a Bat Mitzvah, my family traveled to Israel for two weeks. My great-uncle Milton, who taught me to sound a shofar, hired a private tour guide so that we could explore Jerusalem with an expert. From feeling the smooth stones at the Western Wall to smelling the vibrant spices in the shuk to hearing the cacophony of sounds as people got ready for Shabbat, it was an amazing experience.

But what stands out most in my memory was seeing the darkness in Hezikiah’s water tunnel under the City of David. Back in 1983, one could walk directly into the tunnel from the street – there was no time to prepare for the quick descent into cool water. Our guide shared the story of how it was built and at the middle point where the two sides met, he turned off his flashlight and we were in complete darkness. We continued forward using only our sense of touch and sound for a few minutes before he turned on a tiny flashlight; now that our eyes had adjusted to the dark only a small light was necessary to illuminate the entire tunnel. That small light had incredible power.

While my observations were more concrete, our Yavneh students consistently demonstrate deeper and abstract understanding. During the time leading up to Chanukah, we sing the classic Israeli children’s song, Banu Choshech, that has a similar meaning to Rabbi Zalman’s teaching:

We come to chase the dark away.
In our hands are light and fire.
Each individual light is small.
But together the light is mighty.
Flee, darkness and night.
Flee before the light.

We ask our Yanveh students to look for the deeper meaning and this week had them think about what darkness means to them and what they can do to bring light. Yesterday, Lior sang this song to our Middle School students as they reflected on this very question.

Here are a few quotes from their discussion:

“Something that is dark for me is not seeing my friends in person, and something I can do to bring light to it is calling them and reaching out.” – Claire G.

“People do not have enough money to get gifts for their children. I can give gifts to them.” – Ryan F.

“Something that is dark right now for me is the COVID-19 pandemic, and something that I can do to bring light is wearing a mask and social distancing.” – Ari O.

At Yavneh, we celebrate and acknowledge the importance of bringing light to others and to our community. On these shortest days of the year, we look forward to Chanukah and the joy that it brings. We hope that you will join us in our 8 Days of Yavneh Blaze celebration starting next week on December 10. There are so many ways to participate from the daily Be the Spark Challenge to our daily Chanukah lighting and so much more!