The Sara Litton z"l Monthly Emunah Essay | Shine Your Light - Matan - The Sadie Rennert
Return to Online

The Sara Litton z”l Monthly Emunah Essay | Shine Your Light

Adina Ellis

In the darkest days of the year, and in testing times in Jewish history, it is often challenging to find the light. Sometimes all we can do is a little bit – all we have is מעט. There were few Maccabees battling against the large armies of the Seleucid Greeks — רבים ביד מעטים — as we say in the “al hanisim” prayer, echoing the words of Judah Maccabee (Sefer Makabim 1,3:18-19). There was a tiny cruse of oil with an intact seal, unadulterated by enemies’ hands. Just a little, מעט.

Likutei Moharan (רפב) enlightens us with the powerful message that you only need to find מעט טוב- a little bit of good in yourself as well, as he says, רק צריך לחפש ולמצוא בעצמו איזה מעט טוב. Individuals may feel in darkness at times, that המרה שחורה והכבדות נופל עליו, a heaviness is upon them. By seeking one small נקודה טובה, an act of kindness, a positive attribute or one tiny mitzvah, this tiny shift in perspective can lead to restoration and rejuvenation.

We learn from Beit Hillel (Shabbat 21b) יום ראשון מדליק אחת, מכאן ואילך מוסיף והולך- on the initial day of Chanukah we light one (candle) and then we add more and more each subsequent day. So too in our spiritual work, we start with one small step and slowly, gradually work our way higher. We find one small good thing in ourselves and we focus on that small bit of light. Then, as we know – מעט מן האור דוחה הרבה מן החושך – that small amount of light can push away a tremendous amount of darkness.

Makia Minich, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Makia Minich, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the true miracle in the Chanukah story is not that we found the cruse of oil, or that we were a tiny army who defeated a tremendous one. The end result is not the greatest cause of celebration. It is the determination to not despair, the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people, which continues to inspire us generation after generation.

The mikdash was in shambles, the Jewish people seemed weak and broken and one might think that all hope was lost. The amazing thing is that we had the faith to seek the oil and we had the emunah in Hashem to fight a vastly powerful enemy. We didn’t give up even when everything around us was dark and seemed tainted. Chanukah is about finding the מעט – the little bit of good, the spark of positivity, it’s about seeking it out even when we want to surrender. As we kindle the chanukiah in our windows and by our front doors, the glow of the candles in the dark night reminds us to persevere and hopefully it inspires others to find their light too.

In each of us is a holy spark, חלק אלוקה ממעל ממש (Tanya part 1, chap.2). We each have a pure neshama which is likened to a flame, always turning upwards to our Creator. The soul of a person is like the candle of God – נר ה’ נשמת אדם (Mishlei 20:27) – and there is no person without this candle, and no one’s candle is like another. There is a deep and true, and sometimes seemingly hidden part of us which always yearns to turn towards Hashem and it remains forever untainted, pure and holy, much like the famed cruse of oil. It’s just waiting for us to seek it out.

Have the courage to find your מעט טוב in yourself. Let the flame burn brighter, stronger and higher until it grows and expands and shines brilliantly.

“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world… We are all meant to shine.. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

You are a child of God- let your own light shine.

You are a soul in a body. You are holy.


One little bit at a time.

Adina Ellis

Adina Ellis

is a graduate of the Matan Bellows Eshkolot Educators Institute. She has been teaching Tanakh and machshava over the last two decades, initially on college campuses and in Hebrew Schools in the New Jersey area. Since making aliyah in 2005, she has given weekly shiurim in Hebrew and English to women in her community. Adina has taught in the ALIT program and Rosh Chodesh seminars run by the OU Women's Initiative as well as in the mother-daughter "learn and art" program of OU Israel. She is known for her unique ability to facilitate in-depth textual learning along with engaging and relevant discussions. Adina lives with her husband and children in Yad Binyamin.