“Are you sure you want to buy so many Chanukah candle boxes?!”
the surprised and a bit perplexed vendor at the Makolet (corner grocery store) asked me the other day. I couldn’t help but smile and patiently explain that besides for my five kids, husband, and myself, my first grader simply insists on lighting all of his Chanukah menorahs- yes, all four of them; the wooden one he brought home from school last week, (he painted it himself!) the clay one from kindergarten, his preschool granite strip with glued-on bolts for candleholders, and of course his new Dreidle Chanukiyah from Abba’s Judaica store with removable dreidels that really spin! That night, as I stood watching the not-so-short-ten-Chanukah-menorah-set-up –and-candle-insertion operation, I knew I had a good quarter of an hour to relax and just let my thoughts wander. Yes, each Chanukiya really does match its’ owners personality: Moshe the musician with his harp menorah, Daniel the adventurer with his portable fold up Menorah; Avi-full of life with his rainbow colored one, Noam the little engineer with his train Menorah, and of course Yair- the master persuader- how was it again that he convinced me to let him light all his Chanukiyot? He seemed so absolutely sure that I would say yes- I just couldn’t bring myself to let him down. I’ll bet he’d make a great Maccabee- they sure had car-loads, or make that: Greek-elephant loads of self-confidence!
(Me & the little one at the kindergarten)
So as my husband led the “whose’ Chanukiya goes nearer to the window” negotiation process, I let my mind wander to my high school Jewish history classes- one family singlehandedly put together an “army”, or make that a handful of volunteers with no previous military training, and met regularly, planning to revolt against the army that had thus far succeeded in taking over just about any place or province they set their eyes on. I remember wondering: who in their right mind would do such a thing? Then I was taught how the Maccabee army was born: It all started with a public desecration of G-d’s name, when a pig was purposefully sacrificed on the temple altar, with Jerusalem’s’ entire population gathered there to watch. I guess at a time like that, Matisyahu was fired with one thought alone: “We cannot stand by and be silent! We have to DO something about this- NOW!”
Continuing my daydream, I wondered what I would have done in that situation. I probably would think: “yes, but wait a minute, Revital- you know very well that you are not a good public speaker, so no one will want to join your army, and besides, who are you to start such a thing? You have to be a somebody to start a major project like this! Forget it!” So maybe I have a thing or two to learn from those Maccabees.
And from Yair! Here is my new Chanukah slogan: “I can do it, I am a somebody! “Mom, Mom!” It was Noam, pulling on my sleeve and bringing my historic moral conclusions into immediate usage: “Mom, you have to DO something about it! Yair and his two friends have been in the kitchen this whole time- do you know what they’ve done?! They gobbled up all the Chanukah latkes meant for dinner!”
So I- the contemporary Chanukah hero, took more potatoes out of their bag, reached for the food processor, and- did something about it!