When people think about the holiday of Hanukkah, most think of dreidels, Hanukkah gelt, latkes, Hanukiahs and candles. And for good reason, it’s the “Holiday of Light,” and the “Festival of Dedication!” But are the things that Hanukkah has come to be associated with the true reason we celebrate the miracle of the Hanukkah story? Is a small jar of oil burning for eight days in the rededicated Temple the complete story of Hanukkah?
Remembering those who dedicated their lives
Often we limit the miracle of the Hanukkah story to a short, simple story about the Jewish people led by Judah Macabee, who defeated a much superior opponent, reclaimed the Temple, purified the altar, and lit the Menorah. They had just enough oil to last for one day, but miraculously it lasted for eight.
However, the true miracle that is often missed is the miracle of the people who willingly sacrificed their own lives, families and futures in order to be able to worship God freely and according to their own tradition.
We call it the “Festival of Dedication” because of the Jewish people who dedicated themselves to seeing God’s Temple restored and who resisted the pagan ways of the Greek oppressors. We call it the “Holiday of Light” because of the people who shone God’s holy light into the world, even though the powers of the day opposed them.
The challenges the Maccabees faced in their times are the same challenge we face today. Don’t allow the world to snuff out your light, instead, dedicate your life to shine the light of God into this world to bring lasting change! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holiday!