The poignant single candle lighting up your window on the first night of Chanukah holds the key to solving the pain of existential loneliness. The solitary candle is an expression of the Jewish Law that states that one candle on each night fulfills the mitzvah (commandment) for the entire household. Of course, in practice we follow the view of the Jewish Sage, Hillel, whereby we add one candle every night to bring the majesty of eight candles filling our windows—and our souls, on the eighth night. However, the basic law is that only one candle per night is required. How can one lonely candle be sufficient?
Loneliness is a devastating emotional state. It can lead to a feeling of emotional emptiness and isolation. You may feel alone and uncared for—which often leads to feeling unworthy of love, and ultimately a lack of self-worth and value. Feeling alone is an understatement. The feeling of emotional pain is with you every waking moment. You go to sleep depressed--and awaken to despair and foreboding. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin. There is a pit in your stomach—and you second guess your decisions. Even worse, you begin to second guess your life.
Our Jewish Sages discuss the wrestling encounter between Jacob and the angel in Genesis of the Old Testament, as follows: Just as God is One and unique in the heavenly sphere, and there is no one like Him, so too Jacob is alone and unique in the earthly sphere, and there was no one like him in merit and strength. Therefore, the angel was jealous of him and wrestled with him. (Bereishis Rabbah 77:1)
Rabbi Ze’ev Wolf Einhorn explains that God gave Jacob the awesome strength needed to stand up to the angel. The “awesome strength” that God gave Yaakov--is aloneness. The key to Jacob’s success against the angel is that Jacob’s aloneness was an extension and expression of God’s Aloneness. Aloneness connotes individuality, independence, and oneness.
We usually think of aloneness as a negative state that leads to emotional loneliness. Many people suffer from loneliness, and it can be debilitating. But our Sages are making an astounding point. Aloneness leads to inner serenity when a person becomes alone and integrated with himself. This means that he accepts his aloneness and uniqueness as an expression of God’s Aloneness and Uniqueness.
If you are alone, you can find wholeness within yourself when consciousness of God fills your mind, feelings, and actions. There can be no internal turmoil or confusion when you fill yourself with the awareness that your entire being is an expression of God’s Will. God is not outside of you—rather, God Expresses Himself through you.
We can then revel in aloneness by experiencing “God Consciousness.” When we realize that God is “Reality,” and that our psyche is an expression of that Reality, then there is no room for inner turmoil or self-doubt. You can then achieve inner tranquility by virtue of your unique aloneness.
I invite you to proactively seek the aloneness, and therefore the independence and uniqueness, that resides within your own psyche and self. You can then turn emotional loneliness into the awareness that you were individually chosen by God for a unique mission that only you can fulfill.
The solitary candle in the window on the first night of Chanukah reflects your own unique individuality and uniqueness. May the light of Chanukah inspire you to discover your life mission and in turn, bring new light and motivation into your life, and into the lives of your family and community.