The struggle against “Same Old, Same Old”-The last nights of Chanukah

      Everyone loves the first days of chanukah. Children are excited by what gifts they may get. Parents are excited that their children might appreciate the gifts they give. We can all eat just one more latke without guilt or heartburn. The lights, small as they are fill the room.
     The last days are another story. We can’t look a potato in the eye. The children know the good presents are over, or maybe they will get socks or school supplies. The thank yous to the parents have probably stopped, even if the perfect gift was given.
     This is precisely why the last days of chanukah are probably more important than the first. Let me explain. In the Talmud there is a debate over how many candles we should light each day. The school of Shammai says we start with eight, and then count downward. This way we would know how many days were left. The school of Hillel, which we follow in general, says that we start with one, and add each day. The idea is that we increase the amount of holiness over time, and not decrease it.
     This is a great metaphor for our lives. I feel bad for people who always so, “same old, same old”, or “been there, done that.” I feel worse for the people who have to live with them or listen to them. They are bored by just about everything.
     Judaism says that every moment of every day of our lives can be filled with holiness if we bring enthusiasm and appreciation for what we do. You may have eaten a thousand sandwiches, but you have never eaten the one you are about to have for lunch. That sandwich was made out of ingredients that will never occur again exactly that same way.
     This is only a way of thinking about things, and I chose the sandwich model because I am about to eat lunch, but you get the idea. If we say to ourselves each day that the world is newly created and that we have a chance to enjoy it in a way that no one before or after us could, then we will grow in appreciation for our lives, and not be bored by even the most mundane things.
     When you light those last chanukah candles, remember that we can increase the light, the holiness, in the world each day.

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