Today is the first full day of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, celebrated in the Jewish religion. Many of you may be asking, “What is Hanukkah?”
According to Wikipedia,
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.
Hanukkah commemorates the “miracle of the container of oil”. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate fresh olive oil.
Hanukkah is the recognition and celebration of a miracle. When their leader, Judah Maccabee, and the other Jews who took part in the re-dedication of the Second Temple, lit the lamp, there was enough oil for only one day. They knew that it would take a full eight days to obtain more oil for the lamp, but they lit it anyway. They stepped forward with nothing but faith.
That little light burned brightly not only for the entire day and into the night, but for eight days. As Rabbi David Hartman points out, the miracle isn’t that the there was enough oil for eight days, but rather, that the people lit it in the first place- without being certain that the light would last long enough to complete the re-dedication of the Temple.
In today’s terminolgy, we’d call that a leap of faith, or stepping off the ledge, hoping that our wings will appear on the way down. Judah and his followers may have had a lack of options, but they were willing to take this risk because they were blessed with an abundance of faith.
Whether we’re Jewish or not, we can all appreciate the real miracle of Hanukkah and be inspired to light our own lamps. We can choose to step forward and take risks, with the burning faith that we too will have enough oil to shine brightly.
In this holiday season, may the light of the menorah candles warm our homes and our hearts. Through the festivities filled with latkes, spinning dreidels, songs and tradition, may we take the time to reach out to others, across border and traditions, with open, loving hearts. May we open our minds to the possibilities in front of us and take the risk to be the most magnificent version of ourselves possible.
And most importantly, may we find the light inside, fuel the fire to burn brightly and share the light of love with one another- recognizing and celebrating the miracles in our own lives.
Happy Hanukkah, with love.