Hanukkah’s lesson is about doing a lot with little


Hanukkah teases us by waiting until the very end of the month of Kislev to sprinkle its pixie dust of candles, chocolate coins and dreidels, (not to mention to my cardiologist the latkes and doughnuts).

The Hebrew calendar exhausts us in Tishrei, the first month, with the holidays at the beginning of the Jewish year, which the sages say helps us start the year off right, and then leaves us flat all through Cheshvan, the second month. We get a welcome or unwelcome breather, depending on who you are, to go back to our neutral corner and recoup before the next eating marathon — I mean, celebration of spiritual energy.


Each holiday is not merely a commemoration according to the kabbalists. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the great Italian 17th Century kabbalist, writes that each holiday has the same spiritual energy that seeped into the souls of the original event. We don’t need to risk our lives to fight the powerful Greeks; our ancestors did that for us. Now all you have to do is eat a greasy potato latke with sour cream, belch and enjoy the fruits of the labors of Matityahu High Priest and the like.

A lot with a little

One of the quirky mystical things involves the miraculous. Not the mind-blowing sea-splits type of miracle — just a highly unusual event where you strongly sense the hand of God. This is the symbol of Hanukkah. Sure the oil lasted eight days instead of one, but if you looked at it, you couldn’t tell there was anything out of the ordinary going on. It was somewhat hidden.

Only if you stared at the flame for 30 hours straight would you be witnessing a miracle. And the seats weren’t that comfortable back in those days for such a long spell. But the menorah did a lot with a little.

We fought off the Greeks who were more numerous and better armed. We did a lot with a little.

That’s the power of this time period.

Look at your resources and your spiritual goals. Do you feel you lack what you need to accomplish what you want to accomplish? I’ll bet anyone alive at the time of Hanukkah felt that way, too. Until God showed them the secret. With the Almighty’s help, you can do a lot with a little.


When the Jews fought the Greeks during the time of Hanukkah, they were fighting not for physical survival — the Greeks would have let them live as Greeks — they were fighting for spiritual survival.

Ancient Greece was the embodiment of Yavan, a descendent of Noah’s son, Yafes. The word Yafes in Hebrew means “beauty.” All of Greek thought, whether its science, logic or art, can be used to adorn spirituality — it was imbedded in the creation by God not as an end in itself, but to be subservient to spirituality.

What the Greeks did was like taking the handle off a large beautiful jug and saying, “What a beautiful work of art this handle is! Let’s make a museum of handles like this.”

They missed the whole point.

A meteor shower should put awe of God and His creations in your heart and mind. The design of the human body should astound us with God’s intricate design.

It would seem that this is the time period to examine our lives and the world around us. Perhaps we should look for ways we can orchestrate it all in one direction, towards one goal…to be one with the Creator.

The Archer’s Bow

Western astrology holds up a centaur with a bow and arrow as the symbol of this zodiacal period, Sagittarius. Jewish astrology focuses only on the bow and arrow. The bow takes the laws of physics to use a mere stick and cord to send an arrow flying through the air with deadly force and distance.

It does a lot with a little.

The Almighty is possibly sharing with us through the symbol of the bow in the sky peering down from the heavens during this month that He’s here to help us use whatever resources we have, little they may be, and do a lot, perhaps even a small miracle.

Rabbi Max Weiman is Director of Kabbalah Made Easy and author of ‘A Simple Guide to Happiness,’ available on Amazon.com. More of his articles are found online at www.kabbalahmadeeasy.com.