I wanted to share this story found in the book, Simple Abundance, on page December 6, by Sarah Ban
“In the dark days of December comes the wonderful holiday of Hanukkah, celebrated in Jewish homes. Originally known as the ‘Festival of Lights,’ Hanukkah commemorates the miracle that occurred in 165 B.C., after Judas Maccabaeus and his followers reclaimed Jerusalem from a Greek emperor who considered Israel a Greek province. In an attempt to assimilate conquered nations into a cohesive and controllable society, the Greek empire prohibited any other religion; Jews were forced to abandon their faith and ordered to worship Greek gods. By decree, the Temple of Jerusalem was turned into a Greek shrine, and Jews were forbidden to study the Torah, celebrate their holidays, or practice Jewish customs. Many Jews, disobeying the edict, died for their beliefs.
After a three-year guerrilla campaign, the Maccabees were victorious and the temple was restored to Jewish worship. As part of their re-dedication ceremony (the word ‘Hanukkah’ means dedication) the Maccabees began an eight day purification rite, only to discover there was barely enough sacred oil to keep the temple menorah lit for one day. Miraculously, the temple lamp burned continuously for eight days. Ever since that time the Jewish people have observed Hanukkah in remembrance of their struggle for religious freedom and the miracle of restoration, symbolized by the abundance of oil.
Many who celebrate Christmas believe that Hanukkah is a festival reserved solely for those who practice Judaism. But as Harold Kushner points out in his book; To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking, ‘ if it were not for the Maccabees rebelling against the Greeks, the Jewish faith would have faded into Greek culture, never to be heard of again. There would be no Jewish community for Jesus to be born into a century and a half later. No one would have remembered the messianic promises he claimed to fulfill. Without Hanukkah, there would have been no Christmas.’
Sarah continues to say that, personally, she comes to think of Hanukkah as a celebration of authenticity. The Maccabees refused to surrender what made them authentic – their faith – even if it cost them their lives. Not to be able to live as an observant Jew was not to live at all. Sarah also considers that the Hanukkah miracle was the earliest record demonstration of Simple Abundance. Two thousand years ago there was only enough sacred oil for one night. But all that these faithful, courageous, and grateful people had was all that they needed.
Sacred oil in a temple. Loaves of fishes on a mountainside. Miracles are of Spirit. Miracles are for anyone who believes. That is the heart of Hanukkah and the soul of Christmas. The more we allow ourselves to recognize the wisdom and truth in spiritual paths, the closer to wholeness we become.”
Amen. I hope you enjoyed this writing. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!