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What a Small-Town Rabbi Saw When the Power Went Out

What a Small-Town Rabbi Saw When the Power Went Out

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Last Friday night, at about 9:30 p.m., something went wrong with a power transmission substation, and over 10,000 residents of our hometown of Rogers, Arkansas, were left without power. I am not sure what the other 9,999 households did, but in our home there was not much we could have done. It was Shabbat, and no flashlights could be turned on or phone calls made. Fortunately, we were able to continue our Shabbat dinner without interruption.

It is a custom in many communities that with the birth of each child we add one more Shabbat candle to the required two. So, with eight children, thank G‑d, my wife lights ten candles every week. Those, in addition to the candles lit by our daughter and our guest, provided enough illumination to continue our Shabbat meal.

I don’t know if I ever appreciated the Shabbat candles as much as I did last Shabbat. With the electric lights usually on, I hadn’t noticed just how much light and warmth they provide. Enjoying a candlelit dinner in a pitch-black home and neighborhood was amazingly beautiful and peaceful.

As the evening progressed, and the candles were reaching their end, one by one, I was surprised to see the difference in the room with each missing flame. I never before had a chance to witness just how much light one little candle emits.

And I thanked G‑d for each and every little candle.

The following morning in synagogue, enjoying Shabbat prayers with our wonderful community, I couldn’t help but make the connection between the previous night’s events and that morning at services.

Yes, ours is a small community. We don’t have hundreds of people in synagogue like they have in Jerusalem or Brooklyn. But because of that, each person makes a tangible difference to the atmosphere and warmth of the community. It isn’t easy to notice the value of each individual when “the lights are on,” when you’re in synagogue with 500 people. Thank G‑d for our small community where we can appreciate the difference each and every one makes.

And I thanked G‑d for each and every member of our Jewish community.

So, we had a well-lit Shabbat, after all. Tonight, as my wife, Dobi, lights her candles and tomorrow, as we sit and pray with whoever is in synagogue, I will once again thank G‑d for the light and warmth each candle and each Jew brings.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, after about an hour and a half of darkness, as the last of the candles was about to go out, the power came back on.

Rabbi Mendel Greisman is director of Chabad of Northwest Arkansas.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Anonymous Burlington Vermont December 21, 2017

Thanks for sharing your beautiful and inspiring story. Such a joy to read !!! Reply

Cheryl Urfer P.A. December 20, 2017

Loved your story! Thank you for sharing! Reminds me of this verse. "Be still, and know that I am G-d; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10) Reply

Yitzchakchaim December 20, 2017

Thank you for sharing such a powerful image of light in the dark.

Response to PS. Truly our infinitely intricate, intentional, and personal King is always on time. I pray for Hashem to command over our schedules and blind our eyes of sin with heavens piercing light at just the right time. Reply

Patricia Florida December 19, 2017

Story is a gift Rabbi Greisman, your story is a gift. Your writing is so joyful and the message is so warm -- there are many people who, as the adage goes, would curse the darkness. Instead, you lit candles and felt blessed by it.

Thank you. You made me smile. Reply

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