Burning to Give Light

Dec 24th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Portion of the Week, Spiritual Growth
“What is to give light must endure burning (Victor Frankl).”

“Joseph shall place his hand on your eyes (Genesis 46:4).” God promised Jacob that Joseph would give light to him and to the entire family, for all generations. Although this would be a time of great stability for the family, a period of darkness was soon to descend on the Children of Israel. It will be Joseph’s vision that will give light to the people even during the darkest times. Joseph would not have been able to provide such light had he not 1st endured terrible burning; sold as a slave, thrown into prison, and struggling to live as the son of Jacob despite his position as viceroy of Egypt. It was Joseph’s endurance even while burning that empowered him to give light to his family for so long.

God acknowledged the light provided by the Maccabees with the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. The Maccabees continue to give us light thousands of years later. They too, would never have succeeded in providing such light had they not first endured burning in battle, losses, defeats, and terrible suffering. It was their determination to endure despite their burning that gave them the ability to give light just as a burning candle.

I am often moved when meeting with a family to prepare a eulogy how the most powerful memories are usually those of how the deceased illuminated the lives of his or her family by virtual of his ability to endure.

I have found for myself that the most effective way to endure despite the great suffering is to be aware that the endurance brings more light to the world. The key was to focus on the light I could create rather than focus on the demand to accept suffering.

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