Leviticus 6:1 – 8:3
Recently, I learned that my favorite modern Hanukkah song was a personal manifesto of Jewish identity. For years, I have sung “Light One Candle” by Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) without really understanding Yarrow’s intent, which takes us far beyond the celebration of Hanukkah. “Don’t let the light go out!” is the repeated refrain, and as I sung it again last week (just for kicks) I was immediately reminded of Tzav.
“A perpetual fire shall burn upon the altar. It shall not go out.” (Lev. 6:6)
Peter Yarrow is not a religious Jew, but he is an ethical and cultural Jew – and he chose the words “don’t let the light go out” as a central concept that reflects his identity as a Jew.
This truly takes my breath away. It begs the question, in an age when the Temple no longer stands and sacrifices are far in our distant past, what is the light for us today? What is the fire that, as a nation of priests, we must continue to feed? We will each answer the question in our own ways. For now, at the very least, we can enjoy listening to Yarrow’s answer.
Hi there! I am the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, where I have served since 2016.
(c) copyright 2018 by Rabbi Gary Pokras