As a child, we are not able to voice that feeling. We only know we feel left out in our own country. As an adult, we often just feel aggravated by the end of the season at having heard 50 different versions of the same 20 songs. But we might not feel that way if it weren’t presented as the ‘way of the land’. The assumption that everyone should be as consumed with Christmas cheer as those who celebrate it might work if it were contained to Christmas. However, as the holiday has moved away from its religious meaning and taken on an economic and commercial prevalence that pervades the airwaves, the streets, the stores, the news, even volunteerism and fundraising for six weeks of the year, it is difficult to extract oneself from Christmas.
The December Dilemma this year is not whether or not to engage in Christmas. Except for attending an hour service, we really have little choice. We are surrounded by the trappings of the holiday. So the dilemma is how to keep the light, the spirit of Chanukah alive, even when it has already passed.
The great debate between the two houses of Shammai and Hillel regarding Chanukah was:
As the Maccabees defeated the Syrian Greeks and only later brought the Temple to its functioning condition, this meant, according to the House of Shammai, that evil was decreased in the world before good could happen. Therefore, like the sacrifices of the Temple bulls for Sukkot, according to Shammai, the lights of Chanukah should decrease each night. However, according to Hillel, we should increase the candles each night because we should increase light in the world. As we know, the ruling went in favor of Hillel.
The first part of creation is light. We can’t live without light. When our world darkens, so do our lives, our spirits and our souls. By bringing the spirit of Torah, of good, of joy, of love of this life into the
world, we enlighten our lives. That is our task.
This year, let’s not be left out. Let us lead the way. We have the opportunity to start with Thanksgiving to be grateful for the light in our lives. Let us spend the next month keeping that light alive. As our very short days begin to grow, adding minutes of light throughout December, may we too, increase the light of joy, happiness, and love in our lives, the lives of our families, communities and throughout the world.
Once in a lifetime: Happy Thansksgivukah
Happy Secular New Year.