Chanukah: How to Build a Fire

We live in a world where we flick a light switch and a room is immediately illuminated. But, min haTeva, living in accordance with nature, this is not how we light a room. To light a room, one finds a small flame, a spark. This spark, this flame is, by definition, flammable but it will only burn for a very short period of time. So, from this spark, we light something similarly flammable that will burn for a slightly longer period of time, like a sheet of newspaper. We then use this sheet of newspaper to light something slightly less flammable but that will burn for an even longer period of time than the newspaper, like kindling wood. We then use the burning kindling wood to light something less flammable that will burn for even longer than the kindling, like a branch. A branch to light a bigger branch to light a log and… now we have a self-sustaining, thriving fire to light the room. It is physically impossible to go from a spark to a burning log but by using the intermediary steps, by progressing from the highly flammable, short-lived flame to the less-flammable, long-burning log, we create an enduring fire. The lighting of the Chanukiah, from one light to two to three to four to five to six to seven to eight, reminds us of this progression. The slow escalation of the flames reminds us of how to build a fire, how to transform our pintele yid into a thriving, self-sustaining fire. 


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