Right outside my window are three tall, majestic trees. As I watch their leaves blow in the wind, I feel so grateful for their presence. Looking at these trees takes me to a different place, a different state of mind. My intense city life, which never seems to stop for a second, comes to a halt as I look at those beautiful trees. I feel calmer, more at peace. I wonder to myself, “Who planted these trees?”

Thirty years ago, my neighborhood didn’t even exist. Then someone with a vision came and built. They built building after building. Someone with a different vision came with a few seeds. They planted the seeds, and now, thirty years later, in front of me are three gigantic trees.

The world of a good friend of mine was recently turned upside downThe world of a good friend of mine was recently turned upside down. She found out that many children in her neighborhood had been abused by one of her neighbors. She sent an e-mail asking for help to raise money for psychological support for the victims and their families. She took a chance, and with a pure heart, planted a seed. Within a very short amount of time her seed grew into a tree, as many women wrote back, donating thousands of dollars for assistance.

The other day, I took my children outside with big garbage bags and a box of ice pops. I couldn’t take the sight of the litter that I encounter every time I step out of my apartment building. I was also tired of complaining to my husband about it. We opened the bags and bent over, starting to pick up the trash. Curious kids and neighbors came to see what we were doing. With a big smile I called out, “Anyone who wants to help us, please do so, and take an ice pop for the effort!” Within a short time, I had quite a few volunteers. I planted a seed, and in a few hours the seed grew into a tree, as we threw out eight big bags full of garbage.

Over two thousand years ago, a battle raged in Israel between the Greeks and the Jews. The Jews miraculously won the war and, upon returning, went to clean up and rededicate the Holy Temple. They wanted to light the menorah, but there were no unbroken flasks of olive oil with which to light it. All of sudden, someone found a flask of untouched, pure olive oil. The flask contained enough oil for just one day, and it took eight days in order to make more oil. They lit the menorah. With a pure heart, they took a chance and planted a seed. G‑d performed a miracle, and the little amount of oil lasted for eight days.

Chanukah, the festival of lights, is all about taking chances and planting seeds. We live in a world of a lot of darkness, of concealed light, but it doesn’t take much to reveal the light that is within and about. In fact, you need only a little bit of light to illuminate an entire room of darkness. You have an idea; you want to help someone. Take a chance, plant a seed. Whether the seed turns into a tree or not, it’s not in our control; but the effort of planting, that’s up to all of us. I can’t tell you how many volunteer organizations, how many schools and classes, how much goodness in this world is revealed from the effort of one person who had one idea and took a chance to plant a seed. You might not see the results now, but maybe in thirty years, someone will benefit and be grateful for the trees that you planted.