If I were an expert on love, I would want to understand why longing is fuelled by absence, why opposites attract, why connection often follows collapse, why there is greater passion in reunion than in union, and why, to quote a wise man, love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.

If I were an intimacy expert, I would explore why desire is motivated by inaccessibility, why pleasure is heightened by prohibition, why the mysterious is magnetic, and the elusive erotic, and why the anticipation of having is often more delicious than the having itself.

If I were a psychologist, I’d like to comprehend why satisfaction and struggle are interconnected, and why we are marked and motivated by pain more than peace.

If I were a historian or sociologist I would be interested in exploring why it’s more common for a person or people to be willing to die for their principles than live by them, and why external pressures and existential threats often generate the deepest patriotism and greatest performance.

If I were a Chasidic master, I would wonder why transgressions are often the greatest spiritual triggers, why darkness is a doorway to depth, why struggle is an end in itself, and why, to paraphrase the Talmud, rehabilitated sinners are (in some way) spiritually superior to saints.

If I were a Kabbalist, I would study why concealment is the first act of revelation, why the loftiest is buried in the lowest, why the vessel comes from a higher source than the light, and why of all worlds G‑d could have selected to make His home, He chose the most inhospitable.

There are two types of flames, our sages tell us, the exilic and the messianic: the one that is and the one that will be.

The one that is, requires consumption to exist. It needs external fuel to survive and thrive.

As long as it has oil, wicks, adversity, competition, hurdles, and hardships, it leaps and lights its way forward, upward, and onward.

But the moment there is nothing to consume, no one to conquer, and nowhere to climb, it peters out.

You see, in our exilic state, darkness gives meaning to light, night gives purpose to the moon, contrast brings out color, crisis elicits courage, the existence of evil makes free will possible, necessity gives birth to invention, and moral and spiritual challenge crystallize conviction and commitment.

Without grey clouds there are no silver linings, without bitter lemons there’s no sweet lemonade, without crushing the olive there is no oil, without poverty there’s no need for charity, without pain there is no cause for empathy.

In our exilic state, success breeds complacency, familiarity breeds contempt, privilege leads to entitlement, prosperity to mediocrity, and freedom is often followed by apathy.

In the words of our sags: A candle during the daytime is redundant.

But then there is the light of redemption, whose periodic rays, while few and far between, pierce through the illusion of exile, revealing the ultimate vision and version of our world.

“And behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed.”

So Moses said, “Let me turn now and see this great spectacle. Why does the thorn bush not burn up?”

What mesmerized and galvanized Moses was the flame of Moshiach and the premise and promise of a world whose sacred energy and light is intrinsic and self-generated, internal and eternal, and a reality and dimension of existence wherein elimination is not required to achieve illumination.

Which brings us to Chanukah, the festival of light.

The question is asked: If there was enough oil to last for one day, the miracle of Chanukah was the seven additional days, so why kindle Chanukah candles for eight?

One answer has it that the flames of Chanukah were unlike all others.

When the Jews observed the menorah on day two, they noticed that the wick was fully intact and that no oil had been consumed.

And the same occurred on all other days.

In other words, the miracle of Chanukah was not quantitative, but qualitative, its light belonging to a different dimension and a future time—that of redemption rather than exile.

So as you kindle the Chanukah flames this year, know that their story is your story, that like them, your inner light belongs to a different dimension and a future time, reflecting the reality of redemption that you and I can create by fulfilling our role to be a light unto the world and humanity.