Chanukah contains the secret of happiness in all areas of life, enthusiasm and excitement, and we have our children to thank for it.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
Have you ever noticed that Chanukah is one of the most popular and widely observed Jewish holidays?
Everyone “does” Chanukah to some extent. Whether it is orthodox Jews, conservative Jews, reform Jews, and even intermarried Jews, there is no Jewish home in the world that doesn’t have some sign that Chanukah is here. Maybe it’s a menorah, maybe it’s a latke (Chanukah potato pancakes), or maybe it’s just the exchange of gifts. Whatever. Chanukah is everywhere!
So the question is: Why is that? What is it about Chanukah that makes it so popular, so beloved? There are no special rules like there are on Shabbat or other holidays, there are no nicer clothes, and there is not even an obligation to hold an elaborate Chanukah meal. Life pretty much goes on as usual during Chanukah. So what is it that keeps Chanukah and the Jewish people so connected?
Maybe, just maybe, the success and popularity of Chanukah is due to…the children! Have you ever noticed how enthusiastic children are about Chanukah? Much more so than for other holidays. Think about it. The children are excited to light their candles, they are excited to refill the menorah with oil or candles, they can’t wait to eat the fat-saturated Chanukah snacks. And it goes without saying that they can’t wait to rip open their Chanukah presents! Chanukah’s secret of success is the excitement and enthusiasm of the children! Every night of Chanukah is like the first night. What family wants to deny this pleasure and enjoyment to their children?
What an important and “burning” message this is for us! We need to have that child-like enthusiasm! We need to apply the same excitement and enthusiasm that children have for Chanukah to all the holidays and to all the mitzvot (Torah commandments)!
Even better, we should apply that same excitement and enthusiasm to EVERYTHING we do, not only in Torah and mitzvot, but also in our relationships. We must try to have the same enthusiasm for our spouses as we did on the day we met them. We must try to have the same enthusiasm at work as on the day we began. We must appreciate our home, car, computers, phones, as on the day we bought them. And ,as mentioned, it is so important to keep up this enthusiasm in all that Judaism has to offer. We tend to lose the excitement in all that we do. Sure, it’s not easy to maintain excitement in routine, but it is possible if we put in that child-like effort and it makes life that much more exciting.
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