Sometimes the origins of a holiday and what it becomes are worlds apart. Certainly this is the case regarding Chanukah. We pile high the presents fulfilling so many of our year’s pent-up ”wants.” However, Chanukah is holiday not of wants but of needs.After having defeated our enemy, the Macabees returned to the Temple and found a canister of oil to re-kindle the Menorah. They wanted more, however, what they had in hand, unbeknownst to them, was enough. Instead of lasting one day it lasted eight days providing enough time to make more. In fact, if they had found more there would have been no need for a miracle and we might have missed out on this lasting legacy of Chanukah.

Often what we want we don’t need. And sometimes what we wan think we need, at least in retrospect, we don’t really want.

God may not always give us what we want but God always gives us what we need, our true needs, whether we realize it, like it, or not.

Chanukah is an opportunity to re-examine our “wants” versus our “needs.”

Chanukah is a time to thank God for fulfilling our prayers.

Chanukah, however, is also a time to thank God for not fulfilling our prayers. There are blessings that come with answered prayers. Equally, there are blessings that come with unanswered prayers.

Let’s end with “The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers,” by an unknown Confederate solider.

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

Happy Chanukah,
Rabbi B Rabbi Baruch HaLevi
Rabbi B is co-author of the new book: Revolution of the Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community [Paperback & Kindle] Rabbi Baruch HaLevi and Ellen Frankel, Jewish Lights Publishing (September 30, 2012)

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