First Light Up Our Homes

Yael Eckstein  |  December 19, 2022

Lighting the Shabbat candles

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
     that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
—Isaiah 49:6

This month, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Enjoy this collection of my devotional teachings on this festival that Jesus celebrated (John 10:22) and explore the many lessons of faith that this observance has for Christians and Jews alike.

Have you ever heard of PK Syndrome? PK stands for “Preacher’s Kid,” and it refers to the children of pastors, rabbis, and other faith leaders. PK Syndrome is the phenomenon where the children of these respected spiritual leaders often feel neglected because their parents are so focused on their “flock” in the synagogue or church that they don’t pay enough attention to their own kids.

Thankfully, I was raised in the home of a prominent faith leader, my father Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, who did not fall into this trap. Our home was filled with love of each other and love of God.

Even today, as I prepare for Shabbat every week, I think back to my father taking out his guitar on Friday afternoon and preparing us for the Sabbath by leading the family in song and praise of God to end the week.

Yes, my father devoted his professional life to caring for the needy all over the world, but that never got in the way of the care and love that he showed his own family at home. He knew it was just as important to care for his family as it was to care for those outside our circle.

First Light Up Our Homes

In the Book of Isaiah, we read, “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” God called on the Jewish people to be a light for the world. Hanukkah teaches us how to do that.

The primary ritual of Hanukkah is the lighting of the menorah candles. Even though Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish sages decided that the candles must be lit at home. A second rule is that the Hanukkah candles are to be lit in the early evening, while there are still people outside in the street.

The combination of these two rules for lighting Hanukkah candles teaches us a powerful lesson. Before we light up the world, we must first light up our homes and families.

But, while the candles are lit in the home, they must be visible in the street. If our faith is kept inside our homes and is not brought out to the street, it is insufficient. We must first light up our homes in such a way that the light is visible outside the home as well.

When we raise our families to shine the light of God; we will light up the world.

Your Turn:

How can you add faith, even worship, to your life at home? Think of new ways to bring God’s light into the life of your family.