Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

The Shulchan Aruch tells us that ideally the Chanukah Menorah should look new. However, it is nonetheless permissible to light from one that does not look new. This is because a glass or metal menorah is at least theoretically capable of looking new again with a thorough cleaning. On the other hand, an earthenware receptacle may not be used as a menorah on Chanukah since after its first use it cannot be made to look new again (Orach Chaim 573:3).

The same is true with us. When we believe that we can always change for the better, the light of Hashem can shine upon us, no matter how old we are. But when we give up hope of ever starting anew, when we despair because “we’re too old,” the light of Hashem cannot shine upon us, no matter how young we are.


“It is not good to be ‘old,’ whether an ‘old’ chasid or an ‘old’ tzaddik” (Sichos HaRan #51). We must never be so set in our ways that we are incapable of changing. This is the “old-age mentality” that Rebbe Nachman warned us about. We must always believe that with Hashem’s help anything is possible.

As my friend Rav Meir Elkabaz – who is steeped in the teachings of Breslover Chassidus as much as anyone – says: “One of the reasons Hashem is called the Infinite One is because His compassion to give a person another chance is “endless” – “infinite.” It is the person who thinks that the chances are over, but not so. No matter what a person has done or how far they have strayed, there is always hope if they only want it.”

May the light of Chanukah renew our spirits and enable us to turn over a new leaf.


Previous articleAn Israeli Menorah & An Olivewood Box
Next articleThe Malbim’s Legacy
Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at