Monday, December 7, 2015

Reflection: A Different Take on Hanukkah by Toby Myers

Toby Myers  

The eight day Festival of Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, Sunday evening 12/06/15. The holiday commemorates the improbable Maccabean victory despite the overwhelming forces of Antiochus. The story goes that only one small cruse of oil, enough for one day, was found to celebrate and the cruse miraculously burned in the Temple menorah for eight days. In commemoration of that event, Hanukkah candles are lit each night for eight nights.

Stories of heroism and bravery are exalted. They are told and retold from generation to generation and eventually become part of a peoples' culture. When it comes to tales of dauntless courage and spirit in the face of overwhelming odds, Hanukkah has become one of the greatest illustrations.

As someone who has worked now many years in our field to eliminate violence in intimate relationships, I find celebrating war victory antithetical to peace and coexistence. In war, there is a winner and a loser. Enough loss in the world comes without having to create more.

I would feel better if we found ways to elevate our worship by enhancing society. Rather than extolling the virtues of smiting others, what if we exalted as heroic those who feed the poor, find a cure for disease or a new procedure (i.e. stem cells), preserve the precious environment and planet, and work to end violence? Focusing on win-wins seems the most noble path.

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