When you see a menorah this Hanukkah, look deeply into its
lights. If you look carefully enough, you can find a timeless
message in its eight candles.
The small Jewish army known as Maccabees were greatly
outnumbered and out-armed by the mighty Syrian-Greek army. With
fierce determination, a lot of faith and plenty of prayers, the
Maccabees succeeded in defeating the occupying army. Teach your
children that nothing is impossible.
The Jewish people had been forbidden to fulfill the commandments
and study the Torah under the penalty of death, yet the children
were undeterred. When the Greek soldiers approached, they hid their
scrolls and began playing with dreidels until it was safe to resume
their learning. Without our children continuing our ways and
passing on our traditions, we have no future. Instill your beliefs
in your children, make them feel proud of who they are and where
they came from. Then they will know where they are going.
A woman, Yehudit, played a pivotal role in defeating the Greeks
when she infiltrated the enemy camp and beheaded the powerful
general Halifornus, leaving the army in disarray. We each have
something to contribute to the world. Find your mission and role in
life and do your best to fulfill it.
After defeating the Greek army, the Maccabees returned to
Jerusalem to clean and rededicate the Holy Temple. They found only
a small amount of pure oil to light the menorah, not enough to last
until more could be made. Yet, a miracle occurred: the oil burned
for eight days. There are miracles around us all the time. Some
miracles are hidden and others are in the open. Open your eyes and
The menorah is lit at night. Go into a dark room and light a
candle. It's amazing how far that little light spreads. Be a
candle; light up the world around you. Those rays of light go
farther than you think.
The first night of Hanukkah, one candle is lit. The second
night, two. We increase nightly until all eight candles are lit.
Like the candles, always increase in the good things you do.
There's always more we can achieve.
Though many people light their menorahs with candles, the ideal
way to light the menorah is with olive oil. Have you ever mixed oil
with other liquids, such as water? The oil rises to the top. Be
like the oil. Don't dilute your values. Even when the world around
you seems dark and confused, do what you know is right.
Try a latke, a potato pancake cooked in oil. Top it with
applesauce or sour cream for a traditional treat. Or try
Sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts. Throw some chocolate coins,
gelt, for the children. Nourishing the body makes everyone
And what about the tall candle on the menorah? It is call the
shamash and it lights the other candles. Be like the shamash and
light up those around you. Those people will in turn light those
around them. Like the dark room with one little light, spreading
your light will make the entire world around us brighter.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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