Gimmel - 3 Ways to Take the Pot - Lessons From Hanukkah


Gimmel - 3 Ways to Take the Pot - Lessons From Hanukkah
Hanukkah is an eight day Jewish celebration that can teach us much about improving our lives.

2. Our Own Traditions Can Help Us Keep Our Focus.  In a pluralistic society, we encounter many types of celebration including secular celebrations and celebrations that come from other traditions.  There is nothing wrong with drawing upon our own tradition to keep our focus when others are celebrating as well.  Hanukkah is not among the most significant religious holidays in Judaism, but it is more widely celebrated because of falling at a time when others celebrate their own traditions.  By focusing on Hanukkah, Jewish people are able to celebrate and experience their own dimension of light in their lives.  In the same way, all of us have the possibility of using our own traditions to help our families focus on what is important to us.  When multiple things happen about the same time (such as a birthday, an anniversary and the anniversary of the death of a loved one), our perspective can be influenced by what we decide to emphasize in our celebrations.  Use your traditions to keep the focus where you want you and your family to focus.

3. Lessons Can Be Learned Through Fun.  Playing the dreidel at Hanukkah is a good way of introducing the key meaning of the celebration to the children in a family.  The basic reminder that a great miracle happened there (or here, if you are playing in Israel) and this can be relayed by the children.  Further, playing the dreidel teaches children other lessons depending on how the game is played.  It can encourage the teaching of gratitude and charity, sportsmanship and even the importance of sharing the winnings.  Similarly, all of us should remember this lesson and think about how we can teach our children things that are important to us through games and other fun activities.  This can be done whether the lessons are spiritual lessons or if they are simply values that we would like to instill in our children.  When they are being taught through something that is fun, they are more likely to be remembered by the child and it can be easier to get the idea across.

As we are in the days of Hanukkah, think about the lessons that we can learn from this religious festival.  How often do you continue to do the right thing even if you are not certain it would work out?  What decisions do you make about what to celebrate?  How do you teach your children what is important?  May you find blessings as you decide your answers to these questions.  In so doing, you may find wholeness and peace in your life.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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