I was just in Staples when I heard a woman speaking with an Israeli accent. I asked her in Hebrew where she was from. She said "Haifa" and started to cry. I had never met this woman before, I had never seen this woman before, but there we stood, in the aisle of ink cartridges, hugging.

Perhaps this seemed strange to someone who didn't understand our connection. But we both knew it inherently. We both love the land of Israel. We both fear and mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters there. We are both Jews. Our reaction should not have been seen as extraordinary. I would like to think it is the typical response to sharing pain with another.

Fire is a powerful thing. It can either warm, illuminate, glow and sustain, or it can burn, disintegrate and destroy. The word in Hebrew for fire, Aish, is seen in both the words for man, Ish, and woman, Isha. The letters they share spell Aish, fire. The letters that distinguish them are a yud and a hei, which spells one of G‑d's names. This teaches us that when you put two opposites together, man and woman, between themselves they are only fire. They might burn passionately and spark, but with time that fire will either rage out of control and destroy, or will simply burn out and disappear.

It is the fact that there is a third partner in the relationship, that our Creator is inherently there, that provides a vessel, a containment, for that fire so that it can stay at a safe and stable level, so that it can provide warmth and light without going out of control.

We all have a fire within us. We choose how we use it. Unfortunately, there are many in this world that can't wait to add their fire to the fire that is currently destroying our precious land and resources. That same fire that has taken from us the lives of so many of our people.

But through this tragedy, we are already seeing how people from all different backgrounds are coming together to help. Like the woman in the Staples store, who may not have even looked my way before, became an instant friend. Became an instant sister. This fire is uniting us as Jews, both in Israel and abroad, for we realize that for all that differentiates us, we share a fire. We have passion, and love and compassion and the ability and desire to give and help another. This is the fire of the Jewish people. And more than that, it is uniting other countries to help. As of this writing, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Britain, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Azerbaijan had all sent aircraft to help in the effort, and the United States will also be sending in foreign aid.

And how can we ignore that we are fighting one fire at the very same time that we are lighting another. It is now, during Chanukah, that every night we increase with just one more flame. Tonight, as we pray for the raging fires to be contained, we will add even more light as we light the candles on the menorah.

This is how we respond to tragedy. We bring in even more light. We show that for every negative outcome that can come from fire, so much beauty and goodness can result from it as well, as long as it is being directed in the right way, contained in the right vessel and used for the proper purpose. When you light a candle for the purpose of bringing about illumination and goodness, all you need is that one flame to continuously light the flame in others and in no way will it diminish your own.

As we continue to pray for the well being of our loved ones in Israel, and as we mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters who perished, may we always remember the power of our flame within and our ability to overcome the negativity and evil that others send our way by diminishing their darkness with even more light.