The story of Chanukah teaches us that during the time when the Land of Israel was conquered and ruled by the Greeks and Syrian, the Jews were oppressed. A group of Jews formed a group of rebels determined to retake their land from the Greeks. These rebels were known as the Maccabees. Once the Maccabees regained control of the second temple in Jerusalem the temple had been defiled by the use of the temple to worship foreign gods.
In order to purify the temple they needed to perform the ritual burning of oil in the menorah for eight days. They found only 1 day’s worth of Oil that lasted eight full days, until new oil could be sourced.
In keeping with the spirit of Chanukah and this weeks Torah portion which tells the story of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, his rise to power in Egypt and his reunion with his family, I’ve come up with a few ideas to make them applicable to our world today.
Over the past few months I've been thinking about the worlds conflicts in the middle east and the dream of peace. Due to all the terrorism and fear the dream of peace seems all too far away but the story of Chanukah and the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days makes me dream of a miracle happening to bring us peace. But dreaming, praying and hoping for peace doesn't make it possible it's something we have to work for.
Joseph was a dreamer too but the way he interpreted the dreams for Pharaoh made him valuable. Joseph is then made the adviser to Pharaoh and through his actions all of Egypt is saved from famine. Small acts make big differences. One man saved all of Egypt.I think it’s fitting that we study the story of Joseph during this Chanukah because we can learn that small actions in our daily life can create miracles.
Most people when you tell them you are Jewish at the holiday season they think oh that's great Chaunkah is like Christmas except you get 8 presents. I feel like this doesn’t the opposite of what the holiday commemorates. Chanukah Shouldn't be a commercial holiday where stores make money from your religion, Its should be a time where family gathers and gives the gift of teaching tradition, telling stories and figuring out how to make the world better. 8 nights, 8 small changes to make our world better.
Ideas for 8 nights of small changes that can change the world:
- Donations to local charities in need either by money or voluntarism
- Smiling and talk with strangers
- Helping an elderly person
- Pick up litter on the streets in your neighborhood
- Put down the phone and have a real conversation
- Give Blood
- Speak up and take action rather than only saying this is a problem
- Pay it forward with acts of kindness