The festival of Chanukah is about light. We kindle a menorah for eight nights to recall the miracle of the jar of pure olive oil that was found in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with only enough oil to burn in the golden menorah for one day, but which lasted for eight days.

Another miracle we recall is the victory of the small Jewish army, the Maccabees, against the much larger Greek army, and the subsequent rededication of the holy Temple that took place on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Hence, the festival of Chanukah means "dedication on the 25th" – Chanu (dedication) – kah (equivalent to 25).

When G‑d gave us the Torah, He first gave it to the womenDelving a little deeper, we can begin to understand the beauty of this festival which occurred in Judea in the year 139 B.C.E. and its relevance to us today. This concept is mentioned in one of the additional prayers recited on Chanukah, the "Al Hanisim," which contains the phrase, "In those days, in these times."

When one thinks of physical light, they might conjure up images of vision, warmth, comfort or home. The Jewish people are referred to in the Torah as a light among the nations. We have been given the task and privilege of bringing G‑d's light into this physical world. Why? Because we were the ones who stood on Mount Sinai and declared as one that we would do and we would hear, meaning we'd observe the commandments and the transmission of the Divine message to the world.

The commentaries explain that when G‑d gave us the Torah, He first gave it to the women. G‑d knew that we would be the ones to embrace it, teach it to our children and ensure that our husbands study it too. In this way, G‑d could guarantee the continuation of the Jewish people for all future generations.

As Jewish women, we bring light and warmth to our loved ones. Whether we are married or single, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts or friends (or any combination of these), we all possess a unique spiritual light that has been given to us as a precious gift from G‑d. This enables us to pass on the warmth of Judaism.

No matter if it is afternoon tea for an organization, baking for a fundraiser at our child's school or shopping for a friend who is ill, we are constantly doing good deeds for those in need. These acts of kindness bring warmth and comfort to the lives we touch. Perhaps without realizing it, we have a profound effect on the many people we help daily, Jew or gentile, without thought of reward or honor.

We are but a link in a long, golden chain that includes our daughters and granddaughtersFor generations, Jewish women have been lighting candles before Shabbat and Jewish festivals, to usher into our homes spiritual light, warmth, peace and tranquility. When we cover our eyes and recite the blessing, we connect with all Jewish women from our matriarchs to our great-grandmothers. We realize that we are but a link in a long, golden chain that includes our daughters and granddaughters as well as all future Jewish women.

We are taught that the Shabbat candles are to be enjoyed inside our homes. They remind us to bring our families inside and spend time together. We read and pray by their light, sing and dine by their soft glow on our Shabbat tables and play and discuss with family, friends and guests. We benefit immensely from their presence in our lives, if only for a few short hours from the time they are lit just before sunset until they burn out. This is the lesson of the Shabbat candles.

The Chanukah candles teach us something very different. Like witnesses, they stand tall to testify to our endurance. Their very essence is Jewish pride. That is why we are supposed to place our menorahs on a windowsill to the outside of our homes, so passersby can see them. We publicize the miracles of Chanukah when we light our candles facing to the outdoors or in larger public outdoor lightings and gatherings. They symbolize our pride that we have withstood all the persecution and survived. Throughout our history, there have been many enemies who wanted to destroy us (and still do), but we are still here, strong and proud.

Our enemy during the Chanukah era was the Assyrian Greeks who didn't want to destroy us physically, but spiritually. They couldn't tolerate the fact that we worshipped a G‑d they couldn't see. We wouldn't bow down to their idols, nor live their Hellenistic lifestyle. That is why they forbade Torah learning, Shabbat observance and circumcision - all fundamental commandments that show our deep faith in and connection to our G‑d.

In fact, because Chanukah is about Jewish faith and pride, it is especially pertinent to Jewish women. So much so, that it is forbidden for women to do any type of work while the candles are burning, as a reward for the faith of the Jewish women in Judea, at a time in our history when so many had lost their faith in G‑d altogether.

We can illuminate the entire world, one soul at a timeOne woman, Yehudit, the daughter of Yochanan the high priest, is singled out for special praise. Yehudit showed extraordinary courage and bravery when she risked her life to kill a Greek general who threatened the modesty of young Jewish women who were taken forcibly to sleep with him before their weddings.

So, unlike the Shabbat candles which we are encouraged to use for our own benefit, the Chanukah candles are not to be used for our benefit but for other people outside our home. Indeed, we may not even use their light to read by. Nor may we use one candle to light the other ones, and designate a helper candle, called a "shamash", for this purpose.

Every Jewish woman is like a shamash. Jewish women choose Chanukah gifts for family and friends with much thought and care. We go to schools to teach and retell the story of Chanukah, make countless latkes and donuts for parties and community events. We shop and shlepp, stand and fry and bake, while infusing everything we do with love.

We are like the shamash candle that can kindle so many other candles without diminishing any of its light. The more light we give to others, the more light is reflected back to us. With our special light, we can illuminate the entire world, one soul at a time, with the light and warmth of Judaism.

This Chanukah, as you gaze at the refection of the flickering lights, and on the faces of your loved ones, let the candles warm your soul. Maybe you, too, will find that hidden spark shining back at you. Then, relax and enjoy. Have a latke, play a game of dreidel and sing some Chanukah songs. Happy Chanukah!