Tonight is the first night of Chanukah.
There are so many messages to take from this eight-day holiday that illuminates our long, dark winter.
Besides for the miracle of the Chanukah lights-that although there was only enough oil for one night, it burned for an additional seven nights, there was also an amazing victory of rabbim beyad me'atim-the large army was given over into the hands of the few. The Jews had no chance of winning this war, yet they went out and fought. They placed their trust in Hashem, davened to Him and did what they had to do.
What a lesson for us to take!
As Jews, we need to stop holding on to studies and statistics and place our trust in Hashem. We need to do our hishtadlus, do what needs to be done in our personal situations and then let go of all those predictions.
There are statistics now for just about everything.
The amount of car accidents, infant deaths, people living with depression...the list goes on and on.
The percentage of Americans who are still unemployed, searching for jobs.
Statistics can be frightening. They can make us look at the numbers and give up hope.
The amount of people who will never recover from specific cancers.
The amount of people who will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.
I just heard a crazy statistic for that. One in two people will have a diagnosis. Does that make sense?! How could a human being live with such a fear...knowing that they might be one of the two "chosen" to deal with a life-threatening illness? And the way they say it can be prevented it is by taking care of our bodies, eating healthfully and going to a doctor every so often to make sure our bodies are in check. But assuming we do all that, we can't know what will be. We must remember that ultimately our health is in Hashem's hands.
There are studies for how many people die each year from unnatural causes.
For the amount of babies born with birth defects or health issues.
And for the amount of families living below the poverty level.
And for the effects of certain foods on our bodies-to the extent that if everything is taken so literally, I think we would stop eating each fruit and vegetable and live on water alone because there is a danger connected to every single one. Many of them can increase the intensity of migraines (if you are one of those who suffer from them) and stopping to eat just about everything should be able to make them go away, right? :) And no chocolate of course! Who can live without chocolate? Not I... :-)
There are statistics stating how many children grow up in single parent homes, whether because of separation, divorce or the death of one of their parents.
It's scary to see these numbers.
And then someone came along and added to these statistics-the percentage of girls who will never get married. That made me really angry. How could they publish studies like this and take away the hope of girls who are waiting to move on with their lives?? Did they take into account that there is a Ribbono Shel Olam who runs the world and that He designated someone for everyone? There are girls who get married for the first time to someone who was married before. Was that taken into account too? The amount of men who either lost their wives or got divorced and were looking to remarry...and married one of those single girls? I'm not saying this is the only answer, but statistics like these upset me. If publicizing the numbers the way it was done will cause more pain to girls in shidduchim, I don't know that it was the right thing to do.
At the end of the day, we must remember Who is in charge, Who runs the show.
And this is the message we can take from Chanukah.
As Jews, we need to release our grasp on those numbers and strengthen our hold on Hashem. We need to rely on doctors, shadchanim, neighbors and friends a little less and depend on Hashem a little more.
The chashmonaim didn't take the numbers into account. If they would have had a full count of the amount of soldiers and elephants coming towards them, would they have tried to lift an arrow? But they went out. And they fought.
And they won.
Rabbim beyad me'atim.
Because statistics don't mean anything when Hashem is the one fighting.
And when they went searching for a jug of oil and there was none to be found, did they give up hope and say it was statistically impossible to find one?
They kept searching.
And when they found just one, they lit it, even though from a statistical standpoint there was no chance for the menorah to keep burning until they would have more oil to light it again.
And it stayed lit.
Because when Hashem is keeping the flame alive, it will not get extinguished.
This Chanukah, when you stand before the menorah and watch the man of the house light it-or if you will be home lighting on your own, take this message of emunah into your hearts. Let your faith in Hashem go up one notch as you internalize this powerful message of Chanukah. Of never giving up hope. Of letting go of the numbers. Of holding on to Hashem.
Because statistically, realistically, He can do anything.