Hanukkah – Increasing the light

Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel constantly argue in the Gemara, and one thing they discuss is whether or not to attempt and bring people who are not so close to God closer (Shabbos 31a). Beis Shammai says we have to hide the Torah from those who are far and keep them at a distance, not attempting to bring them close. Whereas Beis Hillel says to show them the Torah, show them the love God has for each of His children and show them the truth. With this outreach maybe just maybe they will be drawn to return to Hashem.

Their differing ideologies on this matter are also exhibited in other rulings. For example, how to light the Menorah; Beis Shammai tells us to start with eight lights and reduce it one by one as the days proceed reducing the light – this is called ‘Pocheis V’holeich – פוחת והלך’ and this is similar to how Beis Shammai ruled earlier, in that we do not attempt to bring others close. Saying as if to reduce the light from those distant souls, not showing them the light of Torah and Mitzvos. Beis Hillel comes in and tells us that regarding menorah we start with one, adding each day – increasing the light, this is called ‘Mosif V’holeich – מוסיף והולך’ And this is like what Beis Hillel ruled earlier as well. For he said that we should attempt to bring people closer to God – to increase the light – to add on to the light that exists in their souls and bring them closer. As it says “One must add holiness, not detract.” (Berachos 28a)
This too was the conflict between Yosef and his brothers. Yosef obviously held that we go and increase the light, go bring others close, we see this from his name, Yosef, which comes from the word Mosif, to add – to increase, as we saw “So she called him Yosef, saying, ‘May Hashem add on for me another son.” Thus he was constantly Mosif V’holeich, going out to bring others closer whereas the brothers sided with Beis Shammai. This is what is meant by “Yosef was beautiful in looks…” (Bereishis 39:6) The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that Yosef’s physical beauty was a reflection of his inner, spiritual beauty – his uncompromising dedication to the Torah.
By virtue of his closeness to God, Yosef was able to fulfill his mission; to bring others closer to God. And like Yosef we are all called upon to bring others closer to God, to be Mosif V’holeich, increasing the light for those distant souls. Yet in order to succeed like Yosef did we must attempt to be like him, spiritually beautiful. This does not mean we must achieve perfection in spirituality before we offer a hand to our brother in need; perfection, just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to those that know less than us we are “beautiful” enough to inspire them.

Nevertheless if we neglect our own spiritual growth, meaning to be Pocheis V’holeich, that is to detract the light – not only do we remove light from ourselves but others will not benefit from the great light we could potentially share. It’s not about being perfect or beautiful to yourself it’s about being beautiful and perfect to another. May Hashem bless us that the Light in our life is always increasing shining ever brighter, and through this we can affect change in ourselves and those that stand a bit in the darkness. In the first few moments of our world Hashem said “Yehi Ohr – let there be light”. But instead we could, and perhaps should, read “Yehi Ohr – It will be light!”
Meaning that the entire world – even the darkness will be light. But we have to start with our addition, with our flame – one at a time.

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