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The final candle

נרות שבת

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I heard the following story on Shabbat:
A number of years ago, a rabbi came to Alaska to speak in a local school about Judaism. After he finished speaking, he asked, "Is anyone here Jewish?" A little girl raised her hand and said: "I am." The rabbi got excited, but he did not know what to say to her. He was in a hurry to catch a return flight, and what could he possibly say in a few minutes that would be etched in the mind of a girl living in such remote area? How could he bring her closer to her heritage?
With a sudden flash of inspiration, he said: "You certainly know that every Friday night women light candles before the Sabbath begins. It happens first in Australia and then, several hours later, in Israel, and then in France and in Britain, and only several hours afterward in New York. And eventually, last but not least, in Alaska. After the entire world is blessed with light and peace, when most Sabbath candles are already lit, the entire world waits for your candle. This is the last Sabbath candle that is lit and so the mission of lighting up the entire world is accomplished. From now on, you will be the one who lights the final candle."
In the Torah portion that we read on Shabbat, we learned about lighting the menorah, signifying the obligation of each of us to add our own light to the world. The rabbi could have told the girl that it would be a challenge for her, so far away, to make a difference. Instead, he gave her a job to do and a mission, to light up her own corner of the world.


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