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The Empty Menorah

The Empty Menorah

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The highlight of the festival of Chanukah is the mitzvah of kindling the Chanukah candles every evening. Traditionally this mitzvah is fulfilled by placing the candles in a menorah of eight holders. But in the first few days the menorah always seems very empty and incomplete. Wouldn't it be more logical to kindle these flames in single candlesticks, adding one each night?

The menorah brings together two perspectives—the focus on the present and the aspirations for the future. Successful growth – whether spiritual, intellectual or emotional – must always combine two very different approaches. The ultimate goal is drastic change, but it has to be accomplished taking one step at a timeOn the one hand we should always appreciate the infinite potential of our soul and the unlimited capacity to grow into something completely different than we are now. True growth is not just a small token improvement, but rather a fundamental dramatic change of mindset, attitude, and emotional responses. On the other hand we cannot implement this change in one go. While the ultimate goal is drastic change, it has to be accomplished by taking one step at a time.

This is lesson of the Chanukah menorah. We light one small flame at a time, representing small and responsible steps. At the same time we stare at the empty candle holders, reminding ourselves of the greater goal. We light the first, second and third flame one at a time, but aspire to ultimately fill and kindle all of the candle holders.

As we kindle the first candle this Chanukah, let us be proud of the first step we have taken, while at the same time looking forward to filling and kindling the empty holders.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie lectures on a wide range of topics with a special emphasis on Personal Growth and Self Development, including self esteem, communication and relationship building. He is the director of "Bina" in Sydney, Australia.
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