One half of the Chanukiah is lit by the fourth day! The holiday is zooming by and hard to believe that it goes so fast. I try not to get up in the buy a present, give a gift to all. Perhaps that may seem a bit “Scrooge-ish”. I don’t mean it to be “Bah Humbug”. But I try to resist the overt commercialism and materialism that stems from this time of year in some kind of competition with Christmas.
I believe in giving something to those you love and care about. But this holiday was never a major holiday. It was considered a minor holiday. The gift giving holiday in Jewish tradition was and is Purim when we send baskets or Shlach Manot , often of sweets, to friends and family. Chanukah became a gift giving holiday so Jewish children especially in North America in the Post World War II era wouldn’t feel “left out” of the Christmas frenzy!
One custom I like to do is to give extra tzedakah during this time of year. Something for each night to make the miracle of the holiday extend to the miracle of caring for others. Even when there wasn’t enough oil to last, God’s spirit helped us bring light from the Temple to the world. And so too our acts of tzedakah and gemilut chasadim (charity and loving kindness) during this season reinforces this ideal of bringing light to the world when there is darkness in certain corners.
And this winter, especially with so many struggling during this Recession/Depression there is a lot of darkness in the world. There are so many people with out work. So much violence in the world. So much desperation in the world that by stretching my dollars to give to good organizations that make a difference I feel that I am helping to shine this holy light that comes from our chanukiah into the world.
So on this day four of Chanukah with half of the menorah glowing in remembrance of the miracle of the oil that lasted beyond all expectation, give some tzedakah to help others last beyond all expectations.
Happy Day Four of Chanukah.