What a year! We are really looking forward to celebrating Chanukah! We all need some light, happiness and celebration now that 2020 is almost over and we look forward with hope and promise to a great year in 2021.
On Chanukah, we celebrate how more than 2,500 years ago our ancestors, the Maccabees overcame great odds to win over the Greek armies who tried stop them from practicing their faith. Following their miraculous victory, they went to Jerusalem where they rededicated the Holy Temple and lit the Menorah. Though there was only enough oil to last for one day, the lights miraculously continued to burn for 8 days.
We celebrate this great miracle by lighting our own Menorah for the eight nights of Chanukah (starting this year on Thursday, December 10).
While many families light candles in their Menorah, since I was a child, my family always lit the Menorah with oil lamps that were filled with olive oil just as the original Menorah in the Holy Temple.
The olive oil lamps aren’t just a relic of history, they are a symbol of the light and power of Chanukah!
Extracting olive oil is quite a challenging process. Look at the olive and you will not see any oil, only the bitter olive. Yet, once the olive is squeezed and the oil is extracted, it can be used to generate light and warmth.
Our lives are very much like the olive. Sometimes the greatest light and warmth that we generate in our lives, shines only after we are pressed and face the most daunting challenges.
Take a moment to think of your greatest achievements: your education, your family, your career, the impact on your community. You will notice some of your best successes and achievements come only after facing enormous insurmountable challenges. Like olives, we humans tend to shine after being pressed.
For many of us, this past year has been the most challenging year of our lives. We have lost loved ones, many have been sick or seen their loved ones suffer, countless have lost jobs or seen their business collapse, and others faced loneliness and fear.
Yet, the miracle of oil in the Chanukah story teaches us that like the Maccabees of old, we shine brightest after being pressed with life’s greatest challenges.
Think about your own challenges over that past year and you will find the unimaginable opportunity waiting for you. If you don’t see it, it’s time to start looking. I’m certain you will discover it and be grateful that you did.
Come celebrate Chanukah with me this Sunday, Dec. 13 by meeting us at our Chanukah Car Parade that will be driving across the beach cities with music, giant Menorahs and a police escort. Decorate your car and join us at 3:30 p.m. at the JCC parking lot at 2108 Vail Ave. in Redondo Beach.
Or come meet us along the route where we will be giving out Chanukah gifts to kids:
4:30 p.m. - El Segundo Main St
5 p.m. - Downtown Manhattan Beach
5:20 p.m. - Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza
5:40 p.m. - Redondo Beach Pier
6 p.m. - Redondo Beach Civic Center
Wishing you a Happy Chanukah and a new year filled with blessings!
Rabbi Yossi Mintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.