Wednesday was the sixth day of Hanukkah. It was also Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the beginning of one of the saddest months of the Hebrew calendar. On the eighth of Tevet, the Egyptian King Ptolemy had the Torah translated into Greek, and we had days of spiritual darkness. On the 10th of Tevet, the siege of Jerusalem began. According to the Zohar, Tevet is a month of “strict and dangerous justice” for us.
So while celebrating Hanukkah, a time of great triumphs and miracles, we enter a month of darkest days. How can we still be celebrating?
According to the Sfat Emmet, the light of the Hanukkah candles on Rosh Chodesh Tevet spreads to illuminate the whole month. We light 36 candles, the number of days from the beginning of Hanukkah to the end of the month of Tevet.
And so we continue to celebrate even as the month of Tevet begins.
How do we celebrate? The parties that we usually have had in past years were relegated to zooming — but that meant that more people could participate in the parties from all over the world. The major joy of lighting our menorahs is a mainstay of our celebrating. In Israel, we not only see menorahs in many windows, but many houses display at least one menorah in an outdoor box allowing the beauty of the lights to shine out to the world.
But let’s not forget the doughnuts.
The ones that were available locally in Beit Shemesh were not the fanciest, but they were really good, with enough flavors even for those of us with an allergy to chocolate.
I started out modestly. One glazed doughnut. One jelly doughnut. Enough for two days… But before I left the store, at another location, I saw a Boston cream with white icing — the last one. It cried out to me in its loneliness. Could I leave it? (Rachmanos for a doughnut?) This would give me enough for three days.
Think again. The first one led to an uncontrollable urge for another one — after all they were different flavors — and then I looked at that lonely Boston cream. So far, each one had been excellent. I could always get more the next day. It was almost Hanukkah — just a day before — and I was celebrating! (Please note: Normally, I don’t eat doughnuts before Hanukkah has officially started, so this was a definite infraction.)
But three doughnuts in one shot! Full size doughnuts! What was wrong with me? I wound up with a headache. Was it from the doughnuts or from the guilt over such an indulgence? So I had a thought. Maybe if I drink enough water it will neutralize the sugar, calories, whatever…. Maybe I will forbid myself from getting any more doughnuts.
I made it through until after the weekend. On Monday, after all, it was still Hanukkah, still a time to celebrate. This time I bought four doughnuts with the absolute faith that I would have no more than two at a time — two on Monday, two on Tuesday. I kept to my plan, but on Tuesday, they had a flavor that I hadn’t seen before. Blueberry! How could I pass that up? Add another Boston cream and I had my supply for Wednesday. Done!
So I can still say Hanukkah Sameach!
Happy Hanukkah for another day — and an illuminated Tevet…