Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Time To Eat The Donuts!

Now that we are in the midst of the Hanukkah holiday, Jews around the world are lighting their menorahs and stuffing their faces with latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyah (jelly donuts). I might be doing the same if I had planned ahead a little better. Oh well, there is always next year.

Over the past few weeks I have been packing as many boxes and bins as I could in the little free time that I have had. One of the many things that has long since disappeared is the menorah that we have lit the past couple of years. While I could rummage around in the tightly organized containers, there is even less time available and too much more that has to be done between now and our move.

So this year is going to be chalked up as a moment of transition in our lives (like we needed something else to carry that moniker). Maybe we need to take the holiday off this time around and start fresh with our son next winter. So while we do not have the hanukkiah out right now, we already have a place picked out in our new home. Maybe we will even have the time to light some candles toward the end of the holiday.

But there is much more to Hanukkah than lighting candles and eating carbs. At its core, Hanukkah “celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality.” Those of you who might be brothers will see many parallels to this in Freemasonry. In fact, it summarizes quite nicely the core of masonic teachings. This of course is in addition to our teaching new masons about the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

However, I digress. The story of Hanukkah, which can be found on Chabad.org, is as follows:

More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

It is the holiday of miracles and morality, dedication and determination, holiness and humility. It is during these eight nights that we stand in awe of the gifts that abound around us and thank G-d for everything that we have been given. This year, we have a lot to be thankful for and I look forward to sharing this holiday with my son next year.