“And the Lord said, ‘Let there be light! And there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) It states, “There was light,” instead of, “and it was so,” as it says in all other places, since the contrast to the previous total darkness represented an advance that had to be emphasized. This was not merely an addition to previously created matter, but the first visible fact of development of any kind.
Darkness represents void, disappearance, and non-existence, as compared with light, which represents presence, appearance, and renewal.
Light had to be the first of the ten directives to establish the beginning of coherent activity, since it removes a state of eternal darkness and stagnation.
The term ‘day’ which includes periods of darkness alternating with periods of light provides the meaningful framework for all subsequent developments. This period of light would equal in duration the previous period of darkness. (Akeidat Yitzchak, Genesis 1, Translated by Eliyahu Munk)
The light of the Chanukah candles represents that first step of coherent creation. It is an expression that we are constantly in a process of growing and changing, and that we will emerge from periods of darkness having achieved greater clarity and light.