Hanukkah (or Chanukah or one of many other spellings) is a Jewish festival that comes around the time of Christmas. Many people know it for the progressive lighting of the candles on its nine branched menorah, for latkes or potato pancakes, for gift giving, for singing and for dreidels. From a religious standpoint, there are many holidays that are more important in Judaism, but culturally many more people have heard of it than more significant Jewish holidays. Each of us can learn lessons from Hanukkah about winning in life. Here are three things we can learn from this festival:
1. Doing something right can pay off. The root of the Hanukkah festival is in Maccabees where it is described how the people only had enough appropriate oil to light a lamp for one night but it lasted for eight nights until more sacred oil could be prepared. When we are faced with a situation that appears impossible, it is common for us to want to give up and not even try or to do something that we would not be that happy about. It is important when we face such a situation to maintain our integrity and to not try and cut corners in what we are trying to do. Similarly, even without having an idea of how it will turn out, we are able to approach the situation and proceed to see how it will turn out. The sacred writings don’t talk about what the people would have done if a miracle had not happened – but they went forward waiting to face that situation when the situation was upon them. By doing our part and trying to still do things right leaves open the possibility that something else will happen or even that a miracle will occur. You may find that someone else is able to help you on your journey of making these decisions. For people of faith, it is often possible to see the way that faithful responses have occurred in the past and to use this as a source of hope for how you proceed and this is part of the reason that the candles are lit at Hanukkah.