Lighting up the darkness

It is a long-standing Chabad metaphor, repeated by the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, that his Chassidim need to be lamp lighters. One of their tasks is to create light in a dark world, so to speak. In advice allegedly also given to Binyamin Netanyahu, he had said

“even in the darkest hall, the light of a single candle can be seen from a great distance”

Netanyahu had taken to using this metaphor in many speeches and discussions. If I’m not mistaken, he also used this metaphor in his famous recent speech to the UN. The metaphor is apt an powerful, and certainly justifies the lighting of the Jewish soul, if you wish, by Chabad emissaries throughout the world.

Recently, I was listening to a shiur by R’ Hershel Schachter. He mentioned the Pasuk

כי נר מצוה ותורה אור

For Mitzvos are a candle and Torah is light

He made the point (unrelated to Chabad) that whilst its true that a little light can illuminate “big” darkness, that Mitzvos are limited in that they are but the light of the candle. It is not effective on the larger scale, so to speak, of vast darkness. They light up the immediate surround, but are pretty limited as one moves away. Torah, however, is light itself. Accordingly, says R’ Schachter, if one wants to really illuminate and disperse the darkness, one needs to increase in Torah learning, whose light is Or itself.

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