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Hanukkah’s Brightness in Dark Times 

12/01/2021 02:30:18 PM


If faith is bravery in the midst of uncertainty, then perhaps the meaning of Hanukkah is that the miracle was actually on the first day! As Rabbi Michael Strassfeld has taught, the miracle was thanks to the deep faith and courage that it took to light the Menorah, knowing there was not enough oil for eight days. It was that same faith led the Maccabees to revolt against impossible odds. They believed they would overcome, as in the words of the prophet Zechariah, “not by strength, nor by power” …but by faith, belief, determination, and sheer will.

This faith allowed them to light the Menorah, and it is this determination that made it burn for eight days. It is the miracle of faith and of courage, despite darkness, and of belief in the growth of light even and especially in the depths of winter.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Hanukkah, the holiday known as the Festival of Lights, falls at the darkest time of the year, when daylight is most scarce. Also dark has been the Pandemic and the awful toll it has taken in ways measurable, unmeasurable, and immeasurable. Which is one reason why it feels particularly meaningful for Jews to once again light our Hanukkah Menorah this winter.

Let us all, in the darkness of this winter, do what we can to illumine these challenging times, helping to ensure brighter times ahead. After all, isn’t that what the Maccabees’ faith and courage would look like today?

Happy Hanukkah!

Mon, May 29 2023 9 Sivan 5783