The Lesson of Hanukkah

Living with imperfection

Print this page Print this page

The Jewish way calls on every human quality and every skill known to humanity. The past culture demanded fortitude and long-suffering, tolerating powerlessness and persecution without internalizing them. The present culture demands active responsibility, handling affluence, acceptance, and power without absolutizing them. The battle of Hanukkah is being fought again, not in military engagements but through creating family ties, competing educationally, communicating values and messages, holding and deepening loyalties. It can only be won by partial solutions, visionary persistence, and realistic dreams.

Pessimists and assimilationists have more than once informed Jew that there is no more oil left to burn. As long as Hanukkah is studied and remembered, Jews will not surrender to the night. The proper response, as Hanukkah teaches, is not to curse the darkness but to light a candle.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Irving Greenberg

Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg was the president of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and founding president of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He also is the author of For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter Between Judaism and Christianity (2004, Jewish Publication Society).