The news is not cheery. First came the financial crisis, right before Rosh Hashana. And we wondered, "What does this mean for the Jewish people?"
Then came the terror in Mumbai. Coupled with the ongoing threat from Iran, we continue to wonder, "What does this mean for the Jewish people?"
And now another scandal strikes -- a Jew involved in a scam that destroyed the financial lives of his close friends and thousands of others, and brought down many worthwhile charitable institutions. Not to mention how it has delighted the anti-Semites of the world. And still we wonder, "What does this mean for the Jewish people?"
Chanukah is upon us. It is a time of spectacular miracles for the Jewish people. It is a time when the odds were clearly stacked against us, when we were small in number and weak in strength. And yet we prevailed. We succeeded militarily and we won the spiritual battle as well. And we, their descendants, know that the potential for zealous commitment that the Maccabees brought to fruition resides within each and everyone of us.
The potential for zealous commitment that the Maccabees brought to fruition resides within each and everyone of us.
We know that we can be victorious in a military skirmish. And more importantly, we know that we can fight and win the spiritual war, that belief in the Almighty and the power of good will ultimately triumph. As long as we continue to trust. As long as we continue to remain optimistic. As long as we continue undiscouraged, unswayed by the news and the doomsayers. As long as we continue to remember Who's in charge.
These are scary times. These are dark times. But they are not the first ones we have faced.
The days before that first Chanukah were frightening also. Potential annihilation of the Jewish people and everything we stood for loomed on the horizon. And the Almighty lifted us out of that darkness. And we lit the lights of the menorah. Perhaps it's no coincidence (is it ever?) that the holiday of Chanukah arises now, at this confusing time. Before we allow ourselves to sink into visions of doom and gloom, to be depressed by the news or worried about the future, we can focus on the opportunity of the holiday, the example of the Maccabees and the gift of salvation from the Almighty.
Because even though the prognosis wasn't good, even though the behavior of the Syrian-Greeks, not to the mention the behavior of some of our then fellow Jews (sound familiar?) had everyone asking "What does this mean for the Jewish people?", their worst fears were not realized. The darkness cleared, the dawn broke. The light of the Chanukah menorah shone brightly in the Temple.
So too, can we trust and pray that the Almighty will lift us out of the darkness, out of the fear, out of the financial morass and the nuclear threats, and out of the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments of the world. And that His light, the light of the Jewish people, will be reflected in the glow of our menorahs.