It's fitting that Chanukah usually falls right around the Christian New Year– as both have a similar spirit of 'rededication' (the literal meaning of the word 'Chanukah'). Many of us make New Year's resolutions, or attempt to rededicate our life to a certain practice, belief, or hobby. Hopefully, in whatever way we do so, we are aiming to be more righteous in the world around us. Therefore, I think it's worthwhile to reflect on what exactly we imagine 'righteousness' to be. 

 

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, has a beautiful passage in his writing, where he tries to define what it means to be purely righteous': 

 

"The purely righteous do not complain about darkness, but increase light. 

They don't complain about evil, but increase justice. 

They don't complain about heresy, but increase faith. 

They don't complain about ignorance, but increase wisdom."

 

It seems a bit facile, but the point is critical– what it means to be righteous, to be just, to be faithful, or to be wise is to take action. To complain of the problems of the world is itself not enough, not if it doesn't inspire us to do something. We can easily fall into the trap of focussing on what we don't like - the darkness, the evil, the heresy, the ignorance - but we have to try and go further. As we go into a new year, a new decade, a new government, let's try and remember that if we're not happy, the solution is more than identifying the problem– it's rededicating ourselves to take action to address it. 

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