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    Lights inside and out

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the Chanukah lights fulfil a double purpose.

    They are a source of light within the house, and they also symbolise the duty of bringing light to the world outside.

    This is suggested by midrashic sources which speak of the Jewish people as the world’s shammash, its “servant light”.

    The Midrash itself is based on the teachings of the prophet Isaiah, who says God has appointed us as “a light unto the nations”.

    The world needs the light of morality, ethics and truth to be brought to its dark corners, part of the messianic process that hopefully will lead the whole of mankind to redemption and fulfilment.

    It’s hard to be the world’s shammash, not only because of the weight of responsibility but because inevitably it brings criticism and accusations of national egotism.

    Other cultures and groups do not like our claim to be the world’s moral teacher, but there is not too much evidence that they have done the job better themselves.

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