During the “festival of lights” and beyond, Chanukah’s messages provide insights into life that transcend this joyous holiday.
By Rabbi Moshe Rothchild
1. A small amount of light has the power to dispel lots of darkness.
When we light the chanukiah (candelabra) on the first night of Chanukah we light just one candle. One shining soul can brighten a dark world and fill it with warmth, love and spirituality. Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish all by yourself.
2. One flame can light up another without being diminished whatsoever.
When you share, teach or inspire others you light their soul on fire. Not only are you not diminished by it, you are empowered.
3. Do the best you can and then leave the rest up to God.
After the Jews defeated the Greeks they found only enough pure oil to burn in the Temple for one day. Nevertheless they lit it and a miracle occurred and it burned for eight days. Do the maximum and then give space for God to work.
4. Always look up.
No matter what direction you hold a candle, the flame always burns up. We each have a soul and no matter what challenges we face in life we have a lifeline connecting us to God. The soul is the flame burning inside of you that is always reaching up to God.
5. Go beyond what you think are your limits.
The potential contained within the jug of oil to light was limited. Yet, that little jug of oil went beyond its limitations and kept burning. Don’t limit yourself—you can achieve far more than you think is possible if you would only believe in yourself. Limitations are usually an illusion.
6. It all begins with family.
The battle against the Greeks was initiated and led by one family, the Hasmoneans. On Chanukah we recall the resolve of one family willing to stand up for what is right and to fight for those ideals. It all begins and ends in the home. We need to strengthen family life the world over.
7. Know what you are dedicated to.
The word Chanukah means dedication. When the Temple was desecrated, it needed much more than simple repairs. It needed to be rededicated. They knew what they were fighting for—it was a God-centered worldview versus the Greek man-centered worldview. They were dedicated to the cause. To what are you dedicated enough that you are willing to fight for it?
8. The majority is not always right.
Much of the known world was under Greek/Hellenistic influence at the time. The Hellenists believed that man was equal or superior to the gods. The human body was the Temple and its perfection was to be worshiped. While this is what most people believed, at the end of the day it was a small group of Jews that not only defeated the Greeks militarily, but dispelled the darkness of this ideology. Following the right path may not always be easy or popular but we must—even if it means going against the tide.
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