Beit Shammai says: “Be realistic.
Decrease the candles. This statistic
demands that though eight candles burn
the first night, on the next night spurn
one candle, until on the last
just one remains.” They say the past
has got less power than the present,
and cannot claim to be as pleasant,
since life is downhill from the start.
The horse comes first, and then the cart,
an anticlimax to the horse,
because it lacks its primal force.
Beit Hillel says: “Keep always trying:
that way you won’t see fire dying.
Increased by candlepower, light
defeats the dying of the night.
One caveat only, we must wait
until the last night to have eight.
That way each night we will remember
springtime can come in mid-December.”
Quite unrealistic! Yet we follow
Beit Hillel, believing that one swallow
can make a summer, for we know
that others will put on a show
that is a hit, but trust the first,
for it alone the darkness cursed.
By shining zeh haqatan gadol’s aura
the minor validates menorah,
not Anglicized as a majorah,
due to the rule of Beit Hillel:
to every day be more enlightened,
by unenlightened folk not frightened,
and, majoring in light, made great,
each day a brighter graduate.
The Babylonian Talmud discusses a controversy regarding the number of lights that must be lit on each night of Hanukkah, stating in Shabbat 21b:
Beit Shammai says: On the first day we kindle eight lights and, from there on, gradually decrease the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, we kindle one light.
And Beit Hillel says: On the first day we kindle one light, and from there on, gradually increase the number of lights until, on the last day, we kindle eight lights.