Community Rabbi Corner, Dec. 18, 2020

Rabbi Ari Isenberg
Congregation B’nai Israel
Millburn, NJ
Parashat Miketz
You Are The Chanukiah
What’s the connection between Avraham Avinu and Chanukah?  One of my favorite Midrashim (an ancient Rabbinic interpretation of Torah) comes from Bereishit Rabbah and it goes like this:
“To whom may Avraham be likened? To a king’s friend who saw the king walking in a dark alley.  Through a window, the king’s friend began lighting the way for the king, brightening up the alley.  When the king looked up and saw his friend, the king said: ‘So long as you’re lighting my way, why do it from a distance? Come down and light the way for me in my presence’. So too did God say to Avraham.”
Through this reading, we can imagine that when God and Avraham first met, God was lonely and seemed to be wandering in the dark.  Avraham lights God’s path with his light and his presence. This image warms my heart. It’s incredible to think that Avraham - like us today - had the ability to make God feel a little less alone.
To me, the lesson is that each of us has the potential to bring brightness, joy, presence, support, and comfort into the lives of people who may need it, those who may be feeling some darkness and loneliness.  Maybe it’s a classmate who’s been struggling with the challenges of remote learning or a friend who had to isolate because of an exposure scare, or a grandparent who hasn’t been able to hug their grandchildren for many months.  Chanukah reminds us that we each have the potential to bring light and hope.  After all, this is the season of great miracles.  Let’s illuminate the world.