Happy Hanukkah! I hope that your nights so far have been brightened by the candles of the season, both within and without. Of all the messages and lessons of our eight day holiday, my grandchildren helped me to keep it simple. “Just five more days, Tata!” Lesley exulted when I got off the plane. I knew she was talking about Hanukkah.
Her words transported me to the childhood celebrations of the holiday. The wonderfully violent scary story, the pretty rainbow candles, crunchy latkes, gambling with the dreidel, and of course, the pile of presents by the fireplace with my name on it. I’m sure that one of the lessons is to remember such joy and never to let it leave us.
There is much to say about Hanukkah from historical, ethical, spiritual perspectives, yet this year this is the gift I want this Hanukkah: to look forward with the joy of a five year-old and to remember that the highest wisdom is joy. (For past thoughts on the holiday, choose the “Holidays” link).
We ask each day for a renewal of energy and vision, and we recognize the righteous by their young hearts. Despite personal and communal heartache, losses, and struggle, those who keep the biggest picture and don’t give up are righteous. Ordinary people might succumb to the temptation to give up. The Maccabbees are the ones who kept fighting despite impossible odds.
Hanukkah has few rules and that’s part of what makes it so cheery and laidback–you can light candles after sundown, you can work, and you can cook. It may seem like a lot of latke days, but maybe, if we’re going to feel like children during Hanukkah, we might dust off a board game or a deck of cards if we haven’t played in a while. The rabbis tell us to enjoy the light of the candles for its beauty and not to count your money by it. Eight nights of pleasure. Try it. It might have a future that we eagerly anticipate.
Hag Urim Sameah! Lighten up at Hanukkah!
Peace and Love,
Rabbi Malka Drucker