Last few months I attended several meetings that had to do with the years 1940-1945. The reasons for these meetings are sad enough, but also good because society at large will realize that it failed in giving help during this dark period.
During a meeting in Coevorden I spoke with a holocaust survivor. His words, not being a real speech, impressed me strikingly. The coldness and laxity of those people whom he thought to be his friends hit me. They looked away from what had been done to their Jewish compatriots, their Jewish friends and acquaintances. After the war he met a lot of coldness.
However, recently a turning point has been reached, at least in my humble opinion. The Red Cross admitted fully and sincerely that they did not do anything for the Jews.
Soon we will lighten the menorah. In the first night one light, in the second night two candles, till on the eighth day the Menorah will be shine in full glory with eight candles. The question is well known whether we lighten on first day eight candles, on the second day seven and finally on the last day eight ones or just the other way around? What is this Talmudic argument all about? There is one nice explanation: the opinion to start with eight candles follows the reasoning that on that day I have in mind to light the eight candles of the Menorah, so I lighten eight of them. On the seventh day I need only to lighten seven ones, so I do. On the day before the last day I know that I have to lighten but one, so I lighten one on the eighth day. The idea to lighten but one on the first day and on the last day eight ones, is that we do not have the intention in mind but the act itself. In this way we lighten the menorah for centuries, starting with one and ending up with eight candles. We have chosen for the act, not just for the intention.
The Menorah, Hanukah, teaches us that we are able and also obliged to lighten and to give warmth during these dark days and in dark places. But also to fellow men who lives in dark and difficult circumstances.
But be careful! The same Menorah tells us not only about the will to help, but especcially about the act. Good intentions are fine, but the bringing of the light is really better.
Many good and enlightening years!
Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi