“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually. Outside the dividing curtain of the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron shall set it up before the Lord from evening to morning continually. [This shall be] an eternal statute for your generations.” (Lev. 24:2). From here we get the commandment to hang the Ner Tamid, Eternal Light, which still hangs over every ark in every house of Jewish prayer and learning. There is not a lot of commentary readily available on this commandment, which gives us the opportunity to interpret it at length according to our own understandings.
The imagery of light offers great symbolism for the radiance that emits from a loving community. At Chanukah, the menorah we light represents the Ner Tamid of the Temple that miraculously burned for 8 days despite having only enough olive oil to kindle the lamp for one. But when we sing, “Don’t Let the Light Go Out,” it’s more than just a reminder that Chanukah candles, unlike birthday candles, should not be blown out. We’re reminding ourselves, each other, and the greater world community that we, as Jews, will not let the light of Judaism be extinguished.
By being here every Saturday, you are all helping to keep the Eternal Light kindled here. The Eternal Light burns not only by olive oil or, in our case now, electricity, but also by continuing to keep the radiant essence of Judaism alive. It burns when we pray together, lighting up this room with our voices in song. It burns when we study together. Most importantly, it burns when we look out for each other and take care of each other, when we show our love for on another. May we never let the light go out.