Today is the fifth day of Chanukah, which we marked last night, the fifth night, by lighting five candles on the Menorah.
The fifth night is considered special and growing up we always got more Chanukah gelt on this night than on any other.
What makes the fifth night special? It is the only day of Chanukah that can not fall on Shabbat no matter which day Chanukah begins on.
But what’s special about that? If anything, that sounds like a loss. This is the only night that doesn’t have the potential to ever be coupled with the holiness of Shabbat, with the light and warmth of the Shabbat candles, which are meant to bring peace to the home. That sounds like darkness, not light. How can that be special?
Every other night of Chanukah has the potential to partner up with Shabbat and shine extra light to the world, but only the fifth night must rely on its individual, inherent light to brighten the darkness.
The very fact that the fifth night has never fallen on a Shabbat and that it never will, means the fifth night has great potency and power to illuminate. Not having the potential to team up with Shabbat for double the light is indeed darkness, but even that darkness the fifth night banishes.
Sometimes in life, we shy away from our light, believing that the only way for us to shine, is if we have the permission, spoken or otherwise, of those around us. “I can shine my candle in a room filled with lights or alongside those who are already luminaries.” But to shine our light in a dark room, to stand out and draw attention to ourselves, without softening the glare of our brilliance by merging it with those around us, we are often afraid to do.
The fifth night comes to remind us, that yes, it is wonderful when you can benefit from the accumulative power of community and like-minded individuals who take pride in sharing light with each other, and those around them, but that may not be the only mission you were sent to this world to accomplish.
Inevitably, there will be times in your life when you are called upon to “make a stink” - to stand upright and shine bright as a lone lighthouse in the cold, darkness of an island deep at sea, and stand up for what’s right - to shine love, compassion and justice to the world. Nobody will be standing with you. In fact, many may stand against you.
But just know that you are not alone. G-d shines through you, enabling you to enlighten the darkest corners of your life and the lives of those around you, bringing warmth, light, and healing to a world that has been waiting for just your light for just so long.