Eight Lessons from Hanukkah for All of Us

The following was written by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life. It originally appeared in November of 2010.

When Hanukkah begins this Wednesday night I’ll light the brightly-colored candles with my family, sing the ancient blessings and traditional songs, and delight in my kids’ enjoyment of the holiday. And then I’ll wash dishes or pay bills or fold laundry, I’ll tuck my little ones into sleep, and I’ll prepare for work on Thursday.

In terms of religious significance Hanukkah is actually a minor festival. We make time in our schedules to remember a long-ago miracle but we move about our regular days. It’s a little sparkle at the beginning of winter. Its significance is conflated because of its proximity to Christmas, but really, they’re not in the same league.

Still, I think there’s something in Hanukkah for everybody:

1. Let your light shine out.

The two-sentence version of the Hanukkah story is that when the Eternal Flame in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was extinguished, only enough oil to relight it for one day could be found. God made the day’s oil ration burn for eight days, the time it took for messengers to travel and return with more rations. Jews light the Hanukkah candles to remember the miracle of the oil, and they light them in their windows and doorways to publicize the miracle. What gifts can you share with your neighbors?

2. Develop the long view.

We’re commemorating a story that occurred over 2000 years ago. It still matters. Can you imagine what impact your actions will have in 2000 years? How can we add relevance to our everyday lives?

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