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Home » Chanukah, Israel, Military, The Jewish Faith

Canukah: Despite the Odds

Submitted by on November 21, 2013 – 6:50 pmNo Comment | 9,574 views

The Source of Light

In the course of life there are times of joy and of melancholy. When we are surrounded by friends and a constructive support network, when we are successful at home and at work, when we are satisfied with personal progress and development it is easy to coast along with nary a worry or concern.

But what of those times when we are beset by doubt and plagued by insecurity? How do we move forward when the lights of life dim, the sounds of success fade and the support of friends dwindles? How do we pull ourselves together when we fall into a funk at home and at work, encountering failure and unhappiness, rejection and abandonment? Where do we seek light when surrounded by a blanket of darkness, how do we prevail despite the odds?

This question is asked in every religion and each has its own answer. Some say that we must seek our strength in G-d, others say we must seek it in ourselves and yet others say it is found in the universe. Judaism has a unique and novel approach. The Torah teaches that light does not need to be kindled from an outside source, it is already burning within. Yet it is not our light that burns within, it is G-d’s.

The light of G-d is the soul of man, said King Solomon the wisest of all men. When you seek strength in times of weakness or success in times of failure don’t look beyond yourself. Don’t look for G-d outside of yourself. Look for G-d within because that is where G-d is found. You don’t need to kindle a light, you merely need to bring it forth. It always shines, it always burns, it radiates even when it is isn’t visible.

This is the message of Chanukah. Don’t accept the script that others write for you. If the writing on the wall tells you that you have failed and foretells a future of doom, reject the script. Know that on the panels of your heart there is another script. Know that the wellspring of resilience and the bottomless reserve of spirit is at the apex of your being. You don’t have to change your script, you just need to start reading the correct script. The script that aptly describes you. The script that is already within you.

You are not a failure and your future isn’t filled with gloom. You are G-d’s child; endowed by your creator with endurance and resilience. There is not a fall you cannot bounce back from, there is not a mountain you cannot scale. despite the odds - innerstreamThere is not a darkness you cannot light up and there is not a bitterness you cannot sweeten. Despite the odds you can get over your hump. You have G-d’s light within.

Despite the Odds
Nothing could be more bleak than the future the Maccabees faced. An overwhelming superpower had occupied Israel for decades before the religious persecutions began. The Syrian Greeks had superior armies, weaponry and ammunition. They had greater reserves and better techniques. Their generals and officers, triumphant in campaigns the world over, could surely have trumped the fledgling Maccabees.

If this were not intimidating enough consider the internal threat. A huge number of Jews had Hellenized – assimilated into the Syrian Greek culture. They were content raising their children without Torah, Shabbat, circumcision and Jewish holidays. They rejected the laws and rituals as ancient relics; superfluous to an enlightened people. They viewed those who clung to religion as backwards; a cancer to be excised. They would do everything in their power, including fighting their own brethren, to ensure stability and the continuity of their lifestyle.

These were the odds faced by the Maccabees. If these are not daunting I don’t know what is. If these are not overwhelming I don’t know what is. If these don’t portend gloom, I don’t know what does. It would take a miracle to overcome these odds, there was simply no earthly plan that could deliver a Maccabean victory. Yet, the Jewish warriors rejected this script and drew on the resilience of their souls.

They faced off against the Greek army and fought an impossible war. Despite the odds, they banked on a miracle and it finally came. There was bloodshed and there was anxiety, but there was never doubt. They overcame enemies from within and without, but they triumphed.

Arriving to the Temple they found it in shambles and once again their spirits were tried. A lesser people would have been discouraged by the desecration and the mammoth task of restoration. Drained by battle and depleted of spirit, all were aghast and many were overwhelmed, but Judah the Maccabee would not hear of it. The G-d that delivered our victory, he declared, will ensure our success here too. Let’s clean up His home.

Then came time to kindle the Menorah and we all know the story. There was no oil to be found, but this didn’t deter them. They simply refused to take no for an answer and searched till one was found. Having found the one cruise, the critics and pessimists argued against kindling the light for, but one night, but once again the indomitable optimism of the Maccabee prevailed. They lit the candles that one night because once kindled, a flame doesn’t die. Indeed, the next eight days became history.

The Internal Light
The miracle of Chanukah was not that the light lasted for eight days; that is a rather small miracle for G-d. If He could split the Reed Sea, He could refill an oil jar. The miracle is that human beings, fallible and imperfect, overcame their doubts and found a new script. They rejected the odds and charted a new future. They refused to live in darkness and found their internal light.

The miracle of the eight day light is merely an expression of the miracle wrought by the Maccabees. G-d wanted the world to know what the Maccabees had achieved and made it a clarion call for generations. Don’t accept the script of darkness no matter the odds. You have a light inside you that refuses to be extinguished and that one little light can banish a great deal of darkness.

When you kindle the Chanukah lights this year stop and think about resilience and endurance. Egypt, Canaan, Philistine, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Christendom, Islam, Nazism and Communism all failed to destroy the Jews. Pogroms, inquisitions and anti-Semitism have yet to obliterate us. The Chanukah’s single light has stood up to these powerful forces and still she burns, still she pushes back the darkness and bathes us in warmth and light.

The Chanukah light is the light of our soul and the endurance of our spirit. It is the light of G-d in the soul of man and it cannot be erased. Assimilation and intermarriage will not overcome us. Apathy and ignorance will not undo us. This nation is here for the duration, no matter the odds. Polls and opinions might portend failure, but the Chanukah lights tell a different story. They tell us that despite the odds we will prevail.

Joseph remained true to his Jewish roots despite being the only Jew in Egypt. Without community or support Joseph’s righteousness and integrity survived without blemish. Joseph blazed this trail. The Maccabees paved this trail. Generations of determination and self-sacrifice enshrined this trail. All we need to do is walk it. And walk it we must. Walk it we will.

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