I look out at the beauty and tranquility that surround the place where I sit. Yes, God created a beautiful world that is filled with much goodness and natural splendor.
But I know that beyond what I can see with my eyes that ours is a world that knows much cruelty, suffering and brokenness. Wars, hunger, poverty, intolerance and moral blindness are to be found everywhere.
How shall we respond? I like the story of a group of boys who went to their rebbe and complained about the state of our world. “There is so much darkness in our world,” they said. “What can we do?”
The wise rebbe advised them to take hammers and go down to the dark cellar and smash away the darkness. But this was to no avail. So he told them to take sticks and beat away the darkness. Nut again they returned unsuccessful in the efforts. Now he advised them to take brooms and sweep away the darkness. But this was also to no avail. Finally he advised: “Let each of you light a candle and go down to the dark cellar.” And of course, it was no longer dark.
A simple story with an important and hopeful message: In this darkened world, let each of us be as a candle of light. It has been said that “no act of kindness ever goes wasted.” So may each of us persist in bringing light to our world, realizing that every act of kindness and caring and reaching beyond ourselves does have impact upon our world.
Said our sages: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to turn away from it.”
Rabbi David Greenberg