click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Give It All You've Got

Give It All You've Got

The Maccabees taught us that immobilizing perfectionism leaves no room for God.


One of the miracles celebrated on Chanukah is the miracle of having found a flask, containing enough pure oil to burn for one day, amongst the havoc the Greeks wreaked in the Holy Temple. The Maccabees wanted to light the menorah with sacred olive oil, and knew it would take eight days to produce a new batch.

Have you ever wondered how society today would have related to such a miracle?

Perhaps the discovery would have been discounted by the media as insignificant, since the oil was anyway insufficient to alleviate the scarcity of pure olive oil which prevailed at the time.

"All or nothing" advocates may have recommended not lighting the menorah at all. (If you can't do it in the best possible way, why even bother?)

Pragmatists may have assessed that since it is apparently impossible for one days' worth of oil to remain aflame for eight days, one should either light one-eighth of the oil each day, or have the menorah lit for less hours each day, or other compromising possibilities.

The Maccabees no doubt knew their options, yet decided to light the menorah in the most preferred way. This was done despite the fact that it entailed exhausting their entire supply of pure olive oil on the first day, leaving them with the probability of not being able to maintain the highest standard they so aspired to reach. But they decided to do their maximum with the resources they had, and let the Almighty take care of the rest.

There is a deep message here for us today. How many worthwhile endeavors are cast along the wayside because we are not guaranteed total success? Yet the result of inaction due to fear of failure, is failure by default. We can learn from the Maccabees that when there is a worthwhile goal to achieve, one should let go of immobilizing perfectionism, and instead capitalize on existing assets and do ones utmost under the circumstances.

This Chanukah, you can transform the Maccabees' legacy into your own. Choose an important goal which you have been pushing off due to fear of failure, and try to accomplish whatever you can. Don't worry whether complete success will be yours. Just give it all you've got at the moment, and leave the degree of success up to God.

For just as God let one days' worth of oil burn for eight, His Divine assistance can enable you to realize your objectives -- even those you believed to be beyond your grasp. And that's a real miracle.


December 12, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Bea, December 1, 2010 12:18 AM

Lighting a small amount every day

you write that "Pragmatists may have assessed that . . . one should . . . light one-eighth of the oil each day." There are some opinions (of great rabbis of earlier generations) that say that they did exactly that, and still the menorah stayed lit all day, all eight days (they use this to answer the question of why we celebrate eight days and not seven; was it really a miracle that the oil burnt on the first day?)

(3) Sarah, December 24, 2006 12:22 PM

To Mrs. Kramer (my favorite proofer),

Great as usual!


(2) Shmuel, December 19, 2006 12:46 PM

Thank You

Ms. Kramer, I would just like to thank you for your illuminating article. You cogently illustrated the greatest shortcomings of our crestfallen society, which experiences shattered self-esteem as a result of what you called "immobilizing perfectionism". This is a loaded phrase which I laud you greatly for, and hope you don't mind if I use in my own discussions :) I look forward to reading your next piece!

(1) azrielgendelman, December 19, 2006 12:40 PM


i am very impressed with this article it has inspired me greatly please write sum more of them thanks for the insperation
azriel gendelman

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment