“Not by might, and not by power, but by spirit alone shall we all live in peace.”
This verse, from the prophet Zachariah 4:6, is chanted in the Haftarah on Chanukah. It is also now a familiar song, thanks to Debbie Friedman’s popular setting, and I have been teaching it to our Religious School students.
Although some people think that Chanukah is celebrated on different days each year, it really comes on the same eight days each year, right on time, according to the Hebrew calendar. Since the secular calendar is not always in sync with the Hebrew lunar calendar, Chanukah may fall as early as Thanksgiving, and as late as the end of December, or anywhere in between.
The calendar may be hard to follow, but the message of these eight days of joy and light is not. This winter holiday, which often gets lost in seasonal commercialism that threatens to overwhelm us, is not so much about the military victory of the Maccabees, or about the cruse of oil that burned longer than expected. Ths holiday is about the spirit of God resting on a people and motivating them to do what they never thought possible. Perhaps the Maccabean spirit will do the same for us.
Some miracles just happen, and if we are lucky we can recognize them. We can also bring on our own miracles, as the Maccabees did, through our own strength of will. Sometimes the mitzvot we do are seen as miracles by others. Think about it. Then act on your creative impulses to make a difference and to bring some light into the darkness of someone else’s life. Happy Chanukah!
L’hitra’ot, until next time!