Lighting Up The Darkness
by Rabbi Avraham Brussel
Rabbi Avraham Brussel is an educational coordinator at Midreshet Tehilla as well as a popular lecturer at various seminaries in and around Yerushalayim. He was a Rebbi in Yeshiva Orchot Chaim for several years, and he is one of the educational tour leaders on Legacy/ Nesivos tours to Poland and Eastern Europe.
The Rambam in his introduction to The Guide for the Perplexed explains that when Hashem created man in this world He placed him in the dark. “And the darkness became night,” this refers to this world that is similar to night. It is a world where truth is concealed from a person. It can only be discovered after a person works to perfect his character and refine his mind with Torah study. The spiritual level of a person is defined by the amount of light he brings into this darkness. There are those whose night is light up by one lightning bolt after another. He has turned his nights into day. This was the level of Moshe Rebeinu, about whom it is written, “And you stand here with me.” Then there are those who have flashes of light to illuminate their night, but then they sink again into darkness. Then there are those who never see bolts of lightning, yet they still see sparks of light that leap out before them as they walk and then disappear. About the wicked it is said, “They do not know or understand. They walk in darkness.” Truth is hidden from them completely. They can not see value in anything that occurs to them, and are blind to the beauty of the world around them. A Tzaddik sees an infinite value in all that he experiences and in all that he sees. He lives in the light and illuminates the night for others. He has the gift of enabling others to see.
Rav Yosef Yozel Hurwitz, the Alter of Novhardok, had a small house in the forest, where he would go to serve Hashem in solitude. Late one night he went there with a disciple of his to learn Torah. The house was cold, neglected and empty. The two of them went out to the fields to see if they could find some straw. As they walked the student asked the Alter why he went to such trouble to go to a house in the forest in the middle of the night. There was a full moon that night. The Alter raised his hands towards the moon and said, “Don’t you know that each Jew can light jup the world like the sun? and he began to cry. On Chanukkah we remember that there was a man named Mattisyahu Ben Yochanan who once lit up the world with his faith. We remember what he did, and we light candles to light up our own world with our faith.