Did the Greeks win?
Over two thousand years later, most of the Jewish nation has assimilated and is no longer observant and religious. Western culture and scientific rationality seems to be winning over mindful God-conscious spirituality.
Here’s a meditative exercise: Turn off the lights and look at your menorah. Sure, the lights are burning and beautiful and shedding much light – but the darkness in the room is much more present than the light. The candles are bright but they’re so small when you consider how most of the room is dark.
Likewise, we have successes and moments of greatness but the pitiful abject failures are so much more common.
What is it all really worth?
I think we have it wrong. Chanukka is not a celebration of light. That’s easy, natural and only to be expected. Who wouldn’t celebrate light? Who enjoys darkness?
No – brother. The depth of Chanukka is that we celebrate the darkness.
Chassidus says that we light 8 candles because regular light (7) only chases away darkness. But light from beyond the norm, represented by 8, can transform the darkness. There is no longer a polarity of tension. The battle is no more a struggle for the enemy becomes ally.
And yet, to do that we must value the enemy. We must respect the darkness. We must understand the sad but glorious beauty in our failures and moments of shame.
Only then can we approach the darkness and, sensing the vast purpose in those moments, use it as a tool for growth, for empowerment and for Godly light.
So did the Greeks win? You tell me. Does the darkness in your dining room win over the candles? Or do those tiny candles, in their stubborn persistent shining, show that the darkness, by contrasting the light, creates even more depth and beauty? Do your failures have purpose and meaning, which sometimes even surpasses your ostensible moments of heroism, glory and light?
If yes, you’re a living breathing menorah my friend.