Sara Jacobovici – Inside your home, outside; on a beam of light.
The cycle of light began for me on Friday night when I lit Shabbat candles. I am about to light the fifth Chanukah candle tonight, Motsei Shabbat, in my home, by the window, just after lighting the Havdalah candle. I feel as if I am being carried over by a beam of light.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks articulates my experience in his article, Inside/Outside, when he writes:
“There is more than one command in Judaism to light lights. There are three. There are the Shabbat candles. There is the Havdalah candle. And there are the Chanukah candles.”
Then he precedes to write about the differences and what they have in common. This discussion clearly reflects (pun intended) the state of humanity. We live in a paradox and in fragmentation, as we strive to connect and unify.
Our paradox: We are individuals who are dependent on the community. In this way, our individual states mirror the process of community and nation. Our fragmentation is living in a world of “black and white”; inside and outside.
Staying in one or the other, prevents growth and development. It is only in our striving to connect and unify, that we find ourselves in the right place.
I was fascinated to hear the obligation to light described as; “…lighting inside your home, outside…” Rabbi Sacks explains:
“The Chanukah candles used to be lit outside — outside the front door. It was only fear of persecution that took the Chanukah candles back inside…Chanukah candles are the light Judaism brings to the world when we are unafraid to announce our identity in public…”
Our outside boundaries get integrated into our inside boundaries as we allow our personal voice to be publicly declared.
I am in awe of our capacity to do this; to integrate, to reframe a paradox, and to bring the pieces together.
Each opportunity to do so, has its own means. The one that I am experiencing now is through the beam of light. It was sparked Friday night, carried over to the Havdalah candle, made up of many wicks woven together, and across the light from the candles on the chanukiah.
As this beam moves across time and space, it even succeeds at integrating the black and white. The darkness allows me to see the light; both inside and outside.