Seen my light bulbs?

Thursday, 9 December, 2021 - 8:16 pm


I’d like to share with you an incident that happened with me earlier this week, an incident involving stolen and shattered light bulbs. I would also like to tell you how you can help me deal with it.

Monday afternoon, when I arrived at the Chabad House, I was saddened to see that the Menorah displayed proudly in front of the Shul was lying on the ground and every single bulb had shattered.

The Menorahs we use in the public domain are there exclusively to publicize the miracle, so we often use light bulbs instead of an actual flame, as they burn brighter and don’t run out of fuel. The previous night – the last night of Chanukah – saw severe storms ripping through Northwest Arkansas, so I knew it wasn’t vandalism but a strong gust of wind that knocked over the Menorah (Just to be sure, I confirmed it by checking the security cameras); still, the sight was pretty sad. It’s only light bulbs, I thought, we’ll get new ones for next year.

The following day, when I went to pick up the Menorah that we display on the University of Arkansas campus, I disturbingly discovered that – while thankfully the wind did not knock down that one – someone had taken all of the light bulbs. They are unique bulbs that have little, if any, household use and I’m not sure what a thief would do with them, but they were all gone. Every single one.

At this point, ‘missing light bulbs' was more than a coincidence, and I was trying to figure out what to make of it.

I then recalled a conversation I had a few days earlier. ‘If the message of Chanukah is to always increase in light, never to be satisfied with yesterday’s energy, why stop at night number 8?’, I was asked, ‘Shouldn’t we be adding a flame each night continually?’

Sometimes the obviously ‘silly’ questions are the hardest ones to answer.

I replied by relaying a fascinating thought I read a few months ago: Since both nature and miracles come from G-d, and to Him both are equally achievable, the difference between a miracle and nature is repetition. Were the sun to stop its orbit one afternoon and remain in one spot for an hour, we would call it a miracle; yet the sunrise and sunset that are equally miraculous are called nature, simply because they happen every day. When the dead will resurrect it will be an unprecedented miracle, though the ‘natural’ birth of a child that happens every minute is no less miraculous.

If the Chanukah candles would burn in our home every night, I explained, we would cease to see the miraculous light that we are charged to illuminate the world with. It is the once-a-year kindling of the Menorah that reminds us of its miraculous strength. The rest of the year, we put this energy to use by igniting our inner flame and shining our Jewish light to the outside world.

The broken and stolen light bulbs instantly became a call to action, not a distraction: now that Chanukah is over, I need to ‘bring my own light bulb', spreading the light of Torah with my own inner flame.

But my story doesn’t end here.

As I was standing outside the Chabad House sweeping up the broken glass, a pickup truck pulls over and a man named Jerry gets out. “Two are better than one” he simply said, and he proceeded to assist me in cleaning up the mess. He enjoyed seeing the Menorah on his way to work each day and was disheartened to see it broken on the ground. He just happened to drive by as I was cleaning up so he offered to help. I was touched by his gesture.

And here is how this all relates to you.

 ‘Two are better than one’ and a community is better than an individual. As we forge ahead from Chanukah, Chabad of Northwest Arkansas will continue to spread light, igniting flames and fanning them with the eternal strength of Torah and Mitzvot. We will be turning on many light bulbs.

But we need your help. And we need your support. We need it not only to buy 18 new light bulbs for next year’s Chanukah, but for the untold soul-lightbulbs that will be turning on this coming year.

December is the month of giving and about 20 percent of our annual budget is raised this month. The new Shul that has enabled us to increase our acitvities and celebrate better as a community, has also increased our expenses significantly, so our need for your ‘light bulb' is greater than ever.

As Jerry said, ‘two are better than one’ and we cannot do it without you. Please, open up your hearts and open up your wallets and donate generously to Chabad of Northwest Arkansas. We need your support and your help; we need you to turn on more lights.

Click here to donate by credit card or mail your check to: Chabad of Northwest Arkansas, 3400 SE John Rollow Drive, Bentonville, AR 72712. We are also set up to accept stock donations, potentially saving you money on your taxes.

Please, we need your light bulbs today.

Thank you so much,

Rabbi Mendel Greisman


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