Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chanukah retrospective: a few simple lessons of the chag

A few simple lessons from Chanukah that we should not lose sight of even after the chag:

1) Focus on one day at a time: the Chashmonaim had no way of knowing that the little oil they found would miraculously last for eight days. They could easily have looked at that one jug and been filled with disappointment -- what good is one day's worth of oil when more than a week's worth is needed? Instead, they rejoiced at finding that jug and in being able to at least light something. Don't let worry about the future blind you to happiness that can be found in small accomplishments and the success of the moment.

2) Hadlakah oseh mitzvah: Even though the highlight of the chag seems to be the supernatural burning of the oil for eight days, the halacha focusses on the human effort of lighting and not the Divine miracle that kept the candles burning. Don't expect G-d to do it all -- it takes human effort, even effort that we recognize as insufficient by itself, to bring about miracles.

3) Kavsa ain zakuk lah: Provided sufficient oil is used and the menorah is lit in a location that is not windy, one is not responsible if the menorah becomes extinguished. Projects fail; plans backfire. As long as you initially made the proper effort, don't take failure personally.

4) Ad she'tichleh haregel: The gemara writes that the candles must burn until there are no longer regel=feet of shoppers in the marketplace. Chassidic sources homiletically read this phrase as hergel=routine. If doing things the same old way is not accomplishing what it had in the past or not leaving you feeling fulfilled, maybe it's time for a change. Don't let routine and past patterns govern behavior forever.


  1. Ad Shetichleh is also in Menachos 36a, one of the shittos regarding until when can one make a bracha on tefillin.

  2. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Wow a meaning full and chassidish message Thanks