There is a conversation that I have with my dad, like clockwork, when I take a new class. I begin, usually in tears, about my inability to do anything remotely useful with Latin. My dad responds, reminding me of the work I’ve already done and with this advice, “Do this work. It will be hard, but you will work through it and you will look back, astonished and proud of what you have done.” And he is right. I finish the semester in astonishment and with lots of pride.
I imagine the story of Chanukah going something like this. Someone starts, probably in tears, about how little oil there is and how it won’t last more than a day. Someone else returns with this advice, “Go ahead; light it. It will be hard, but we will survive this and we will look back, astonished and proud of what we have done.” And, as it goes, he was right.
Chanukah is about oil lasting for 8 days, but it is also about us. Chanukah is about that moment when our inner fire almost goes out. It is the moment when we don’t think we can finish the paper, get through the day, or survive this difficult time. Chanukah is that person who sees us dwindling and gives us just what we need to get there. And Chanukah is that moment when we finish and look back, astonished at our innate human ability to take hope and run wild with it. Just as the Maccabees’ light lasted eight days, so can we take a small light of hope and turn it into a week’s/month’s/lifetime’s supply of oil.
In closing, the words of Ellie Goulding and The Maccabeats:
Cause we got the fire, fire, fire…
And we gonna let it burn!
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I think there is a Nike commercial that quotes one of our presidents who said something like- it really doesn’t matter how many times you fall but rather how many times you get back up…
I Love this, Miriam. It’s making me think about what (and who) in my life serves to rekindle that inner flame of hope when it begins to dim. I believe I will never think of Chanukah the same way again. Thank you!