Celebrating Chanuka is fun. Living at the times of the Maccabees was not. Similarly, Purim, the Feast of Esther, is a joyous celebration. Living in Persia with a death sentence over your head, in the days before Queen Esther revealed her identity, was frightening. Leaving Egypt after ten amazing plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea was awesome. Two-hundred and ten years of slavery was miserable.
A popular joke sums up Jewish holidays in this way, “They tried to kill us. God saved us. Let’s eat.” But, of course, they did kill many of us. Those who survived went through scary and wretched times. Centuries later, knowing how things turned out, it is easier to channel into the joy than to feel the suffering.
American history has its parallels. The Fourth of July, with its parades and fireworks, is a grand time. Life in Revolutionary War times was grim. When our Founding Fathers issued the Declaration of Independence saying, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,” they did not know how things would turn out. Indeed, many of them and their families did lose their fortunes and lives.
My husband and I celebrated the first four days of Chanuka at a gorgeous resort in Puerto Vallarta, as the guests of a financial conference where he was the keynote speaker. It is a long way, in every meaning of the phrase, from the original clash between Jerusalem and Athens. We look forward to celebrating the final four days back home with family. That is also far removed from the original conflict. We can celebrate both the military victory and the miracle of the oil without having lived with the fear of those days. Yet, the underlying recurring theme of purity vs. depravity, good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, few vs. the many is not far removed from us at all.
I think many of us worry that life in the next few years might be darker and more dangerous. During the past few years, many have already willingly sacrificed their lives for truth or been victims of evil. This has been the pattern of history. Chanuka calls on us to take heart and channel the courage of our ancestors to do our part while relying on Divine Providence to guide and protect us. We know how it ends; our job is to do what we can to hasten that end.
Make sure to grab a Genesis Journeys Set while it is on this amazing Chanuka sale.
Regularly $79.95 – right now only $65