When we gather at the Hebrew Center this Friday night at 5:30 p.m. for the seventh night of Hanukkah, each person will light seven small candles. Yet Hanukkah is not the only time we light a candle. The biblical book of Proverbs teaches “the human soul is the candle of God” (20:27).

I want to talk about that candle. The candle that is within each of us can be lit long after we put away the menorahs and take down the Christmas lights. But first, I want to share some of the story of the first Hanukkah.

The menorah we light at Hanukkah reminds us of the miracle of light and renewal close to 2,200 years ago. King Antiochus, the “strong man” of the Syrian-Greek Empire, bullied his way into the temple in Jerusalem. He was powerful and wealthy, and had his army gut and desecrate the temple because he could. Inside was a holy seven branch candelabra called a menorah that was always lit. Antiochus extinguished that light. But the Maccabees, the heroes of the story, had the courage to resist the empire and eventually reclaim the temple. They worked to rededicate the temple as a holy space, and relight the menorah.

There was only enough purified oil for one night, however, and it would take many days to purify more oil. Nevertheless, they took the leap of faith, and miraculously the menorah stayed lit for eight nights, giving them enough time to purify more oil for the light to continue.

There is a Jewish teaching that says that the miraculous light available to the Maccabees 2,200 years ago is available to each generation. We don’t need to go to a particular place to find it. It is within each of us. We have the light inside, and we can light the lamps that need to be lit all around us. We are the lamp lighters, so to speak.

A colleague of mine recently reminded me of the relevance of Hanukkah in the character of the Lamp Lighter in the book The Little Prince. That lamp lighter lived on a far away planet. We have plenty of need, however, for lamp lighting on our own.

It is hard to think that a little candle makes a difference when the darkness seems so thick and pervasive. Many people have been feeling the weight of this darkness in our country and our world this season. Yet I am reminded of what a friend of mine recently wrote: “it only takes a little bit of light to dispel a great amount of darkness.”

That is what is so powerful about the little lights of Hanukkah. If we carry one message from our winter holidays into the coming months, I would suggest the message to be that we continue to light the lights, for the soul of every human being is the candle of God.

As Rabbi Yekusiel Halberstam of blessed memory taught: “When you come to a place of darkness, you do not chase out the darkness with a broom. You light a candle.”

Rabbi Caryn Broitman lives in West Tisbury and is rabbi for the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center.