It’s December once again! School holidays are approaching, the local shops and streets are filled with festive decorations, you wake up with that dreaded fear – Will I have to scrape ice off my car today? I bloody hope not! And the big worry, what am I going to do for New Year’s Eve? It’s overrated anyway! December has well and truly arrived. There’s a chill in the air, the days are short and dark. But amidst the darkness, the festival of light – Chanukah.
What even is Chanukah? It’s not a Yom Tov in the sense that we sit in shul for a special service, we are not commanded to take time off work and there is no reference to Yom Tov in the Chanukah Al Hanissim prayer. So it’s all fairly simple, right?
Chanukah. Candles. Donuts. Mah Otzur. Presents. More donuts. Easy.
These customs and traditions are great, especially the donuts! Tradition, of course, is a big part of our religion – “Tradiiiitioooon, tradition” – But surely it must go hand in hand with our Judaism. There must be inspiration and lessons to take from this chag. Nostalgia is nice, but not particularly meaningful.
We all remember the Chanukah story; the Greeks ruled the holy land and banned the practice of Judaism. The Jewish People suffered and were forced to practice their Judaism in secret, until the Jewish revolt led by Matisyahu and the Maccabees overcame and defeated the powerful Greek army #miracle. Following that, they regained the Beit Hamikdash (Temple) and found only enough pure oil to light the menorah for one day. This oil lasted eight days #miracle and the festival of Chanukah was born.
December, like all other months, comes and goes. Chanukah too, like all other festivals, comes and it goes. We get so absorbed in the fast-paced life in which we lead today. There is a cyclical nature and it’s very easy to get taken along by the current. Instead of worrying about what we are going to do for New Year’s Eve, it would be great if at one point during these eight days, we stop and think for a moment. Don’t just light the menorah and eat a donut. Don’t even just recollect the Chanukah story. Let’s put some meaning alongside our tradition and nostalgia. This Chanukah shall be an enlightening one.
We may not see the open miracles today that featured in the Chanukah story, however, all of us have the potential to light up the world. The Chanukah story teaches us, once again, how the Jews overcame a strong enemy and we, as part of Habonim Dror, know all too well about another example, the Dror Uprising in the Ghettos. Many people in previous generations have made sacrifices for our religion to continue today, so let’s acknowledge that and act upon it! We can all do that extra mitzvah, we can all go out our way to do something nice for somebody else. Let’s act on that and through the December darkness, let’s light up somebody else’s day this Chanukah.
Chanukah Sameach & Be that light!