The Chanukiah emits an orange yellow glow. The windows are streamed up and inside it’s cosy and warm. The delicious fragrance of frying latkes fills the air. The smoke rising from the frying pan only adds to the warm, special aura of Chanukah. The sounds of laughter and song are heard throughout the house. Dreidels are spun, gelt is given out and stories are told of times long ago.
The Chanukah story rises up in all its glory, flashing brilliant colours of silver and gold. It is spun out from the mouths of parents and grandparents in all its glory. It’s spellbinding.
But it’s history. It’s a story that has happened hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, in the past. It isn’t happening now and it will never happen again.
Or will it?
Even today, the Greek culture continues to haunt us. A culture that wants us to follow in it’s path, a culture that wants us to slip up. And we have to choice, to give in, or not to give in? To take the easy way out or to stand tall and strong to out beliefs?
The skirt that barely covers her knees- will she wear it? Will she give in to the Greek culture, which can be inviting but which has terrible results? Or will she throw it away, overcome her Yetzer Harah? Succeed?
The chocolate bar that isn’t the right hechsher- his friends are eating it. Should he? Peer pressure, Yetzer Harah, “just this once,” lack of self-control. It’s all the same. Or shall he hold his head high and stay strong, sticking to what is right? Succeed?
Her brother had just called her a name; he deserves to be called one back! Will she give her tongue the power to do what it wants? Will she lash out, giving her only a temporary feeling of success? Or will she restrain herself, bite her tongue? Will she have gevurah? Will she succeed?
Will we do what’s right, or what’s wrong? Will we choose to be a Yehudah Hamaccabi, or challilah; fall into the hands of the Greeks?
The Greek culture is out there, tempting and inviting and colourful. Buy this! Shop here! Give your body pleasure! But, if we give in to our body, our soul loses out. And our soul is the one that counts. The taste of chocolate dissolves in seconds, but a Mitzvah stays with us forever. And even if we might not see the results immediately, Hashem, the All-knowing and Powerful will pay us in full, whether in this world or the next. (Or both.)
Next time you find yourself facing a decision between good or bad, between better or worse; stop. What will be the right choice? Am I giving in to bodily pleasures, or am I listening to the inner voice, the neshama, the soul?
A minute of pleasure now, or an eternity of pleasure now and later? What do you choose???
The Chanukiah lights continue to dance, the fragrance of frying latkes continues to fill the air. The Chanukah story is still being told. Rather now, it had a new meaning. The Chanukah story is our life, we decide between good or bad. Next time you face a decision, think of the Chanukah story. Think of Matissyahu, Yehudah Hamaccabi, and all the other important people in life who chose right over wrong, who set the right examples.
And choose the good.