Rainbow , 18.01.09
Rainbow , 18.01.09Flash 90

“Out of the darkness I understand the night:

Dreams flow, a star shines….

Having watched the day grow dark

I go into night- a place to dream…

Behold! The star of stars!
The song of the star enchants my heart…..

The flame of the fire of the heart

shines, rises, endures……”


Nightime. Distant stars flicker in a darkening sky. Streetlights are blinking on, having only recently realized that daytime has passed, and it is now time for them to show their splendor.

I check the time. Is it only six in the evening?

It is Kislev. The month of darkness. The month in which night’s dusk quickly overtakes day’s glow. Each day is shorter than the one preceding it, each night is longer. We search the darkening sky for the glimmer of light which will surely be found. From the depths of gloom we will find hope. We have only to look.

“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:12)

It is perhaps not by chance that this is the month in which we celebrate the Festival of Lights. Hannukah, the holiday of illumination. The holiday in which, as each day grows shorter, each night’s lights will shine brighter.

We light the candles in a row, each evening increasing in illumination.

May this night be one of beauty, light and hope. May the glow of the candles dispel the darkness surrounding us. May the warmth of the family, the joy of togetherness, the happiness of the moment, shine its light upon the future.

Each day the sun rises, in peach-orange glow of the morning which followed the day before. So we too, begin each evening by lighting the candle of today, lighting up the present in all its glory and splendor. It is only after lighting today’s candle that we go back and light the candles of yesterday. First, we deal with the present, the point at which life is lived. Only then, having accomplished our mission of today, which lays the foundation for tomorrow, do we go back and deal with the past.

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.” (John Guare)

Life in its nature is cyclical. Day follows night, which follows day. One month follows the next, and then the year begins again. Life. In a forward motion, a motion which is both cyclical and linear, as we progress towards tomorrow and on into eternity. And yet, each day we are greeted by the freshness of Now, the newness of today.

Each candle must be the same height and width. To remind us that each day of Hannukah is equal to the other. Each day is a new beginning, blessed with new opportunities, with life’s renewal.

“Rabbi Yanai says: All the array of the heavens pass away and are renewed with each day…. The sun, moon, stars, and constellations. Know for yourself that it is so. Come and see:….

In the time yet to come the blessed Holy One will renew them and add to their light… (Pirke deRabbi Eliezer: 51)

Soon it will be Hannukah.

We light the candles in a row, in a straight line. When looked at from the side, one sees only one light. An abundant glow. It is only from a certain perspective we will see that the bright glow is actually composed of a row of smaller flames, each contributing to the full radiance. Challenging us perhaps to go in a straight fashion towards our goals in life. Or perhaps to walk through life on a straight path, being honest with ourselves, and with others.

Though the lights of the Hannukiah are traditionally arranged in a straight line, they are sometimes arranged in a half-circle. In an arc, perhaps reminiscent of the rainbow, the covenant between man and God.

It was at the beginning of Kislev that the flood waters receded, and a rainbow appeared in the sky. The period of flooding was over and a new era unfolding.

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him .……This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds……… Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:8-17)

Until today, we are blessed to see a rainbow in the sky after a thunderstorm, as hope and promise of a new beginning.

It is nighttime. We gaze upwards, and see light against the darkness of night. The powerful force of white against black, of courage against gloom, of hope against despair.

And yet, a closer look will reveal that what we are viewing is not in fact white against black. For within the whiteness of light is the wonder of color, revealed in the magic of the rainbow.

And revealed within flickering flames of the lights of Hannukah. At first glance, we see white against the surrounding darkness. But the colors of light are actually hidden within the flame. Dark purple, red, orange, yellow….A dancing glow of color.

On Hannukah will be lit in many homes, candles of various colors. The children may even arrange the multicolored candles according to the pattern of the rainbow.

Rainbows do not last long in the sky. We have a glimpse of awesome beauty and splendor, only to see it fade and vanish from sight. Life, in its transience and impermanence. Each day sparkling with a rainbow of moments, fleeting, transient, and yet glowing in their presence.

As the candles we are lighting, whose glow is only temporary, but whose presence lingers long after the flame has gone out.

The darkness of night approaches and we light the candles, so that we will remember in the dawn of tomorrow’s day.

A vision of promise was presented to us in the darkness of night.

A glowing rainbow of light, of hope, of faith and dreams. How much greater will be the hope and promise of morning, as darkness fades and light brightens our horizons.

A new day of opportunity and blessing will surely dawn.

“If I say, ‘My foot is slipping’, Your kindness, O Lord, supports me.”
(Psalm 94:18)

Dr. Devorah Ungar is an American-born scientist and musician.who moved to Israel 30 years ago.