Editorial: Hanukkah, Christmas stories of miracles


Published: 12/23/2016 10:31:56 PM

If you’re a child, this is the weekend when the magic of the holiday comes to life. But as much as there is “magic” involved, many people around the globe are celebrating two miracles this weekend.

The first night of Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, falls on Christmas Eve, while Sunday brings us Christmas. Both holy days draw on stories of miracles that provide lessons for one and all.

Hanukkah involves the story of a small group of Jews during the second century BC who liberated the Land of Israel, driving out the Syrian-Greeks. In Jerusalem, that meant reclaiming and rededicating the Second Temple. Part of that rededication included the lighting of the menorah. However, there was only enough purified oil to burn for one day. Somehow, though, it burned for eight days, allowing for a new supply of oil to be secured.

Thus the world knows, from the collection of rabbinic teachings known as the Talmud, the sages, in answering the question, “What is Hanukkah?” respond by describing the miracle of the oil.

Sure, Hanukkah, can be seen as a story of a struggle for religious freedom and the overcoming of incredible odds. But, perhaps more importantly, it is a tale of looking for light in darkness, a light that provides hope.

That same sense of light and hope is part of the story of Christmas – the day that is Christianity’s celebration of the birth of lord and savior Jesus Christ. Events involving the birth of a child in a manger in Bethlehem transformed the world and came swaddled in its own tradition of miracles as well. This includes having angels fill the sky, according to the Bible, to proclaim “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”

That birth it is said brought light to the world, light that was fueled by hope, joy and peace and of good will.

Regardless of one’s faith, these are tenets we all can share and strive to incorporate in our daily lives.

Recall the words of Henry Van Dyke, an early 20th-century clergyman who said:

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!”

Too often the darkness of hate and ignorance overtakes the principles enshrined in these holidays. The lack of light dampens our spirits and obscures what is important.

Hanukkah and Christmas send a message about light.

We should use these miracles and celebrations surrounding them to amplify the light and bring joy to others today, tomorrow and beyond.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

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