Thoughts are powerful so I try my best to have positive ones. I acknowledge and give thanks for my blessings as often as I can and work on improving things instead of complaining and surrendering to “fate”. We are all guilty of taking things for granted more often than not. We have come to think of our blessings as entitlements. Nothing is a given. Everything, everyone in our life, our health, every laugh, every tear is a blessing. These are gifts, but only temporary ones. Nothing is truly ever ours. At any time, they can and very possibly may be ripped away from us or we from them. In Israel, especially of late, we are constantly reminded of these truths every single day.

We have some of the biggest and best blessings that Jews were denied for centuries, but they come with the warning label, “Enjoy while you can, because there are no promises.” So I kiss and hug my kids with every fiber of my being. I stop to listen to the birds sing. I stare at the ever changing magnificent skies as often as I can and I am faster to make that call I have been putting off.

I find it difficult and at times morbid going about my business as usual, when day after day another one of our precious, beautiful, irreplaceable sisters or brothers has been barbarically, brutally, senselessly murdered. Gone. Forever. Leaving their loved ones with gaping holes in their hearts. I don’t know how to live with the pain of murder at the hands of terrorists day in and day out. Sometimes I feel like giving up. I had been wallowing in pain from the harsh reality we live in and I didn’t know how to pull out of it.

Then I heard the words of Doron Mizrahi, bereaved father of Ziv Mizrahi, our 18-year-old soldier who was brutally murdered. He said, “Twelve years ago, I mourned my brother and thought I was done with this. Now I am a grieving father, but they won’t break our spirit.” His brother, Alon Mizrahi, had been murdered in a terrorist attack at Jerusalem’s Cafe Hillel in September 2003. He repeated, “Am Yisrael Chai” and said he will mourn and he will grieve, but he won’t let them win. He will go back to work, take the buses and that we will persevere.

WOW. This is not the first time I had garnered strength from the mourners. They have been a slap to my face with a hefty dose of purpose and mission

We can not be defeated. We must live. It is our obligation to continue the work that these cherished people were doing. We have no choice.

We are now in the month of Kislev. In this month, we have the longest night of the year, representing spiritual darkness. I learned from Rav Dov Ber Pinson that Kislev means trust, hope, and confidence. In this month, we have the story of Chanukah, when the Maccabees found the small jug of oil to light the menorah. The greatest miracle of Chanukah is not that they found the jug of oil, but that they actually searched for it in the first place. The Jews suffered a massacre, great loss, and devastation, and yet they had the wherewithal to trust and hope that they would find the spiritual light. This search is what made possible the miracle of finding the oil, which in turn brought the light. If we hold onto our hope, trust and have confidence in G-d, He will indeed see us through this difficult time and bring the light we so desperately need.

I am awed by the father of Ziv Mizrahi who did just this. He suffered loss and devastation and yet he searched in the darkness, he dug through the rubble of his heart to find the means to keep his fire ignited. It then extended to me and the rest of Am Yisrael to keep OUR fire alive. This is the miracle of Chanukah that lives on today. Let us not lose hope. Let us trust. Let us continue to be a light in times of darkness. We can do this. Am Yisrael Chai indeed.