This is going to be a “different” Thanksgiving where our immediate family replaces our usual extended family group. I know we can still focus on the things for which we must be grateful, but it seems to me that we are in a period of less rather than abundance. There are fewer opportunities to work on relationships as we huddle apart from each other, fewer small businesses are staying afloat, there is less freedom as the government flexes its heavy hand, and seemingly a less grand future for most people.
How do I use the principles of The Holistic You to move upward and forward?
Even before answering your question, we’re going to challenge some of the assumptions, if that’s okay with you, Jerry. You fear the end of abundance. We checked up on the bushel per acre wheat production figures for 2020 around the United States. Absolutely nobody needs to anticipate going without their bread or even cake. Looking at dairy production, everyone can even add butter to their toast and it won’t chip into our dairy excess. The same for fish and beef this year as well as a few other vital commodities. We can assure you, abundance is still the operative word.
Fewer opportunities to develop relationships? Yes, I suppose if you cower and huddle alone, but are you really doing that, Jerry? Somehow I doubt it. Yes, we have to put in more effort than we used to in order to stay in contact with friends or to meet new neighbors, but if we make the effort we can do so. What is more, I know we’re not alone in meeting new people through Zoom and other new technologies. You see, many smaller organizations that would never have thought of bringing us in for speeches and teaching, now think nothing of setting up a Zoom or other audio-video link. We’ve actually met and made many new friends not in spite of, but because of heavy-handed government regulation.
As you say, many businesses are finding it impossible to remain afloat. A tragedy that afflicts people every bit as seriously as does a virus; perhaps even more so. But, there are many new businesses that have found a foothold and are growing in industry sectors that barely existed in 2019. In addition to online communication, there are many new companies competing in the food delivery sector, and so on.
We don’t dispute your point that we are living in challenging times right now, but we implore you to reconsider your overall view of unrequited pessimism. We confess that we harbor a sneaking suspicion that you might have arrived at your gloomy feelings from overconsumption of mainstream and social media. Please ease up on obtaining your sense of how things really are out there from those sources. Even in bad times, some people thrive and they do so by deploying the principles of what we describe in our free ebook, The Holistic You. Now to your question:
This is a particularly appropriate question for us to answer right now with the festival of Chanukah coming soon.
Chanukah celebrates going above the natural. While in the natural world, we live a 24/7 existence, Chanukah sends the message that we can do better than that. It is the only Jewish holiday to fall on the 25th of the (Jewish) month and to last for eight days, hence the title of our audio CD on the subject, Festival of Lights: Transform Your 24/7 Existence into a 25/8 Life. On this holiday, a small band of scholars triumphed over the might of the Greek army and a vial with only enough oil for one day lasted for eight. In the natural order of things, neither of these events should have been possible; yet they happened.
The key thing is, as Winston Churchill once told an audience of schoolboys, “Never, never, never, never give up!” As long as you keep the flame burning, unexpected salvation can arrive. About 400 years after the Maccabees conquered the Greek Army in Israel the Roman army under Marcus Aurelius was being besieged by Germanic savages. After weeks of blazing heat without water, they still held out knowing that all was doomed. Unexpectedly, the heavens opened and with the welcome downpour, the Romans rallied. There were unexpected and, same said, miraculous events experienced in many wars including by the Allied forces in World War 2 and by Israel in both 1967 and 1973.
What is more, unexpected salvation can come not just to nations and armies but also to individuals. It does demand never ever giving up, prayer, and of course action.
That is why we want you to understand that, as with all Jewish festivals, we miss the point if we only commemorate historical occurrences. Each holiday has a current message that is helpful in improving all aspects of our lives. Chanukah reminds us not to focus on limitations and scarcity but rather that by partnering with God and taking advantage of His gifts, we can break through boundaries and exceed our wildest dreams.
You might be interested to know that Chanukah features two calls to action. One is to praise God and the other is to thank Him. To our ears, that sounds very much like the original Thanksgiving.
You are right that we are facing challenges right now, among them realistic health concerns but also an overbearing political overreaction that sows fear and failure. Fortunately, we do not have to succumb to despair. Take the opportunity provided by Thanksgiving to feel and express gratitude and then come out determined that with hard work and ingenuity, and with God’s blessing, you can thrive and triumph.
Once you know and believe that can be done, you are on the road to achieving it.
Keep the flame burning,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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