THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHANUKAH
A few years ago the religion editor of a metropolitan
newspaper called me to discuss a piece she was working on about the
upcoming holiday season and to gather some material about Chanukah.
She wanted to know if I could provide her with a different "take" on
the holiday than she was used to hearing. "And what is it you're used
to hearing?" I asked. "Well you know," she said, "the people I talk to
every year tell me either that Chanukah celebrates the struggle for
national self-determination or else that it's a time of giving, like
Christmas and Kwanzaa, only in a Jewish sort of way."
To be honest, I don't remember what my response was
or what she eventually wrote in her seasonal article. My "take"
however on the holiday of Chanukah can be found between the covers of
Let's begin by making one thing clear. If no one
gives or receives even one present on Chanukah, they have not omitted
or missed out on anything central to the holiday. The holiday of
Chanukah has little if anything to do with the giving and receiving of
gifts. Chanukah is not the Jewish season of giving. If any Jewish
holiday could be construed to be the holiday of giving, it would be
Purim-which does not happen to be
celebrated around December 25-and not Chanukah, which usually arrives
around the same time as Santa.
Having said that, please don't think that you've
just met the Grinch who stole Chanukah. I'm not a sullen old kill-joy
and the goal of this book is not to drain the fun out of Chanukah but
rather to peel away the outer layer, the wrapping paper if you will,
and reveal a profoundly rich spiritual core to the holiday. This book
will help you find insights within the Chanukah celebration that can
illuminate important issues that we all struggle with in life. It will
also help you uncover ancient spiritual pathways that grow out of the
practices that do make up the essence of the Chanukah celebration.
Through your discovery of deeper layers of meaning contained within
every facet of Chanukah you will gain a new "take" on this wonderful
holiday; and perhaps on your ultimate potential as a Jew and a human
being. I hope that after having read this book you will come to
appreciate Chanukah not as a season of giving but as a
season of growing. It is a time for acquiring fresh insights into
Jewish life and a bold new inspiration for living. And what greater
gift, after all, could there be?
BASEBALL AND THE JEWISH HOLIDAYS
To a baseball fan there is nothing quite so magical
as opening day. Opening day, the first day of the baseball season,
represents the vitality of fresh potential. A new line-up of
players-of potential-prepares to take the field. It's a crisp spring
afternoon; the harsh winds of winter are but a fading memory, the
President himself winds up to throw the first pitch-and anything is
possible. Opportunity fills the air. It's time for each player to try
it all again, to give it his very best shot and to set his sights on
nothing less than the World Series.
Every Jewish holiday is opening day for a new season
of spirituality. Every holiday is a fresh encounter with a familiar
experience and new opportunity for insight, for personal growth and
for reaching new levels of spirituality. At the same time, no two
holidays are alike. Each comes with its own distinct opportunities and
potential. Each calls our minds to
consider and contemplate particular ideas; each asks us to assess and
further develop aspects of our character; each asks us to pause and
reflect upon life through a uniquely Jewish lens; and each calls out
to our souls and asks us to lift our eyes, discover the presence of
God in our lives and strive to become more of who we want to be and
who we can be.
Every holiday is a season brimming with fresh
opportunities. The Passover Seder is opening day for the season of
freedom. The first time someone walks into a sukkah it's opening day
for the season of joy. The lighting of the first Chanukah candle is
opening day for the season of soulful living.
THE SOUL OF CHANUKAH
Chanukah is about two ever present forces: darkness
light. It's about a struggle between two world shaping ideologies:
Hellenism and Judaism. It's about the imperceptible human spark that
enables people to reach far beyond their perceived limitations. It's
about the power in a diminutive flame to banish an enormous darkness.
It's about a tiny people that is able to overcome the most daunting of
Chanukah is about the awesome subtleness of life. It's about how
little things can make a profound difference, and it's about
discovering the soul in the flame, the soul in everyday life and the
power of the Jewish soul in history.
Presents are wonderful-to give and to receive. And
latkes-well, to many of us they are the taste of heaven itself. The
goal of this book is to introduce you to dimensions of Chanukah that
will broaden the parameters of your holiday experience. In so doing it
is my hope that you will discover a new, more spiritually inspiring
context that will give new meaning to Chanukah, and even to its
presents, and add a fresh
taste to every batch of latkes.