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Home » Chanukah

Chanukah: You Can Make A Difference

Submitted by on December 25, 2005 – 2:38 amNo Comment | 3,038 views


Chanukah is a holiday that means many things to many people. To some its potato latkes (pancakes) and dreidels; to others its candles and lights. But, in truth, the word Chanukah simply means dedication.

Chanukah was a festival established by the Maccabees to celebrate the re-dedication of the recently liberated temple. Today, Chanukah is still celebrated as a festival of dedication, dedication to a divine system of values and morality.

The miracle of Chanukah took place nearly twenty-two hundred years ago. In Israel, Jewish people lived under the tight rule of Syrian-Greek occupation.

An Epochal Struggle

The Greek society was a culture of mythology and philosophy, of art and athleticism. A culture obsessed by the human body; emphasizing perfection of its contour, and worship of its mind. A culture in which the physique was valued above the spirit, and the mind above the soul. A culture in which the ultimate purposes lay in furthering the development of mankind while achieving the maximum of personal stimulation and pleasure.

Contrast this with the Jewish nation of the time. A nation founded upon a set of ironclad beliefs, with a value system rooted in the divine. A nation that believed in a divine power that is invisible yet prevalent, intangible yet effective. A nation that adhered to the highest standard of morality, founded upon faith, not reason, enunciated by G-d, not the human mind.

These two nations represented a contradiction of polar opposites. If one could control or influence the other, its own validity would be strengthened. The Syrian-Greeks sought more than military and political control of Jews; they sought cultural and spiritual dominance.

Thus they introduced a new culture to the land. They dedicated public altars to idolatrous gods and enacted a series of prohibitions against Jewish ritual.  They organized professional leagues of athletic competition to promote pre-occupation with the human physique. Their aim was to eradicate a faith that defied logic and a culture that discouraged material indulgence for the sake of personal gratification.

A Maccabean Light

They may very well have succeeded if not for the heroic stand of a single family of Jewish priests called the Maccabees.

Despite the degree of assimilation and the blanket of spiritual darkness brought about, the Maccabees would not accept this fate. They championed the cause of faith and morality and single-handedly challenged the powerful establishment. The Maccabees rallied the nation and called to the central core of its faith. They led a rebellion that fought its way into Jerusalem and re-established Jewish rule over the Temple.

What was the source of the Maccabee strength? Their firm belief that every individual can make a difference. Just as a single flame illuminates a large expanse of darkness, so too, they reasoned, could a single act leave an effective and enduring impact. you can make a difference - innerstreamThey also believed that this flame, once kindled, would sustain and fuel itself, ultimately blossoming into a full-blown rebellion.

The Modern Macabbe

The Chanukah candles that we light today are symbolic of this heroic stand. They are kindled at dusk, as night falls, and are placed in the front window to illuminate the darkness.

This darkness is symbolic of our generation’s lack of values and spirituality. Stripped of faith and moral compass, we often find ourselves confused, and disoriented. We flounder in our own bewilderment overwhelmed by our own insecurities. 

However, the flickering Chanukah lights beckon us and convey a message of strength and hope. Their flames proclaim to the world, at large, “Take heart, for there is indeed a light at the end of your tunnel.” “Your world,” proclaims the candle, “may seem darkened and obscured but remember that a single light can illuminate a great expanse of darkness.”

Chanukah teaches that every individual can create an illuminating light. Each one of us can rally family, neighbors and friends to kindle the long-suppressed flame of principles and ideals. Each one of us can carry the torch that will illuminate our darkness and fill us with warmth in the cold dark night.

All it takes is you – you can make a difference. It doesn’t take an army to accomplish the task, merely a single individual. One individual inspires another and together we make a difference. Together we recreate a flame that will bring about a new Chanukah, a new freedom, a new dedication to the strengthening of values, morality, ethics and faith.

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