‘Aight, here we go – eight nights of candles, prezzies, songs and love!
Before I start nattering, I must tell you that Mormon Senator Orrin Hatch’s catchy tune is not the only new Chanukah song to sing this year:
Fabulous Jewish singer/songwriter Beth Schafer has a wonderful anthem called “Night By Night” on her latest album, Raise It Up Bring It Down, which
can should be downloaded immediately to enjoy at your festivities this evening. It’s a clap-a-long feel-good tune that’ll have everyone dancing the hora around the livingroom….
As we gear up to celebrate the Great Miracle That Happened There, I wonder if back in 167 BCE Judah Macabee really thought it was a miracle when the oil lasted eight days at the Temple, or was he still pissed at having to clean up the stinkin’ mess the Greeks left behind? Sure, most religions have a celebration around the Winter Solstice centered around bringing back the light, but why does Judaism make a whole shtuss about a thimbleful of oil and call it a miracle?
Thankfully, my favorite Savannah rabbi, Adam Singer, clarified these questions in his e-mail parsha this week:
How insane it should seem to dedicate eight days in the Jewish year to a bit of oil that burned an extra long time. You call that a miracle?! Splitting the Red Sea, now that was a something! Turning water into blood, that’s impressive! Long burning olive oil? What’s the big deal about that? It’s a huge deal, but it requires some investigation and contemplation to really understand. That miraculous carafe of oil was the proof that even in times when G-d seems understated and it is hard to find the Divine Hand in our lives, G-d is there. In all of our victories, in all of our efforts to do what is right, G-d is with us and fighting for us, even when it feels like we’re alone. The Hanukkah story is a reminder of the Divine Hand which is always present, even when we don’t necessarily notice it.
So I think maybe I get it now, Reb Singer: It takes at least eight whole days to appreciate and give thanks for the kind of not-so-obvious blessings that don’t really seem like miracles until you think about how unlikely it is that we’re even here. Sheesh, just being to able to light a menorah in the window without soldiers decimating the neighborhood would be considered a miracle not too many generations ago.
So many teensy miracles to consider: Like the fact that the CD burner in my Mac died on number six of the 12 CDs of Jewish music I’m giving as gifts to my Shalom Schoolers, but I was able to figure out how burn the rest on the other computer without crying. Or that my mother-in-law in her clouded demented state still seems to be able to read music and play piano. And how about being married to a fine Jewish man for 11 years who makes me laugh every day and our two truly menschy children? That my minivan still runs like a faithful old horse in spite of almost 150K on the odometer? I bet I could come up with thousands more, but I’ve got potatoes to grate.
Ok, that’s a total lie. I use Streit’s Latke mix because it tastes awesome and I don’t have to touch any gross wet potato strings. Yet another small miracle.
Chag Sameach Chanukah to all!