Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I recently spoke at a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the massacre at Newtown. About thirty intrepid souls showed up, at a public park in the center of our city, on a night of blackest wind, frigid cold and rain, to honor the memory of those innocents—both children and adults—who were murdered in stone cold blood by a youthful gunman so utterly possessed by the yetzer hara, the evil impulse, that he had the emptiness of heart to pump multiple bullets into the tiny bodies of six and seven year-old children, murdering every adult along the way, as well.
I shared this story with the stout of heart who attended:
“On a cold and dark night in winter, the Rabbi and his Chassidim (disciples) stood around the menorah as the flame of the Shamash (servant candle) burned brightly in the Rebbe’s hand. The Maoz Tzur and other Chanukah songs were joyfully being sung by the young disciples, who were filled with joy to be with their Rebbe on such a special night. But, in an instant, though there was not the slightest breeze in the house, the flame suddenly flickered wildly, as if dancing, or struggling, then simply disappeared. It did not blow out. There was no smoke. It had simply vanished.
“Just then, a young Chasid (disciple) from a distant village on the other side of the forest burst in through the door, his clothes ripped and tattered, his face puffy and bleeding. He told the harrowing story of his pilgrimage to be with his Rabbi and fellow disciples on such a sacred night. He told of first being injured, then robbed and beaten, but the thought of being with his beloved Rebbe for the lighting of the menorah had overcome the thought of dying, giving him the strength to go on. As he spoke, so the story goes: ‘in stark contrast to his physical state, his eyes were sparkling and his features shone with joy.’ The bruised and battered young Chasid breathlessly explained: ‘I had no idea what to do… [then] a small light suddenly flickered in front of the carriage. The horse stepped eagerly towards it. The light advanced. The horse followed. All along the way, the wild animals fled from us, as if the tiny dancing flame was driving them away.’ At that very moment, the group noticed that the Rebbe’s Chanukah light had returned. There it was, burning in the menorah, its flame strong and pure as if it had just been lit.” (Adapted from “The Vanishing Flame,” by Yerachmiel Tilles).
I shared my observation that Herod slew the young male children of Bethlehem just after Messiah was born, and Adam Lanza massacred these twenty young children just prior to the celebration of Messiah’s being born. During Hanukkah, no less. For whatever that may have been worth; whatever light that may have shone into the night.
I shared my perspective of belief, that the flame of the story is a metaphor of the Jewish Messiah.
And I shared that I hoped that the little children of Sandy Hook had seen that flame, that beckoning source of Light, in their final moments, leading them to sanctuary, and safety; leading them into the warmth of their eternal home in the wake of that human storm on Earth.