During a holiday on which we light candles, too many candles have been extinguished. Four bus passengers traveling on line 947 to Haifa, and two more in Ramat Gan, were killed within a 24-hour period.
Yesterday, I read about two of these lights that went out. Yosef Kahalani, a pensioner who had worked at Tel HaShomer, left three daughters and 14 grandchildren behind. His wife was waiting for him by the window when he was killed, expectantly anticipating his arrival to light Chanukah candles. Hayley Varenberg had immigrated to Israel from South Africa and worked as an English teacher.
Chanukah is considered a holiday of heroism. Perhaps we need to reconsider the definition of a hero. We tend to think of a hero as a macho superman. But 2,000 years ago, our sages determined that heroism has nothing to do with battlefield bravery or physical prowess. “Who is a hero?” Pirkei Avot asks. “The one who conquers his evil inclination.” (And in Hebrew, “heroism” comes from the same root as the word “overcoming.”)
This lesson is especially important on highways, where it is crucial that we overcome our inclination towards impatience and lack of consideration for others. While driving, we need to concentrate – not run stoplights, not impulsively switch lanes, and not look at our cell phones. We must also stop and rest when necessary.
In overcoming our impatience on the road, we perform a truly heroic act.
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)