The eight days and eight nights of Hanukkah begin this coming Tuesday and end on Christmas Eve. Only one out of a 100 of us in Middle Georgia is Jewish. Ninety-nine of us have never played Dreidels, never lit the eight candles of the menorah and never really thought about the meaning of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah means dedication. The temple in Jerusalem needed to be rededicated. The Syrian king had defiled it and turned it into the temple of Zeus. The Maccabee brothers formed an army and defeated the king, and then the purification and dedication of the temple could begin. The dedication would consist of burning oil-candles for eight days and eight nights, but they had only one day’s supply of oil. The Miracle of Hanukkah, like the miracle of any “real dedication,” was that the oil lasted the whole time.
Real dedication means that you don’t stop half way. You don’t give up. You keep going to the end. But it also means three other things. Our Washington politicians say they’re dedicated to making our lives better. They’re dedicated to re-do the tax laws, secure our borders, fix immigration and protect us from radical Islam, but are they really dedicated to these issues -- or just dedicated to getting re-elected? They forgot, or they never knew, the three conditions for real dedication.
Real dedication involves:
Pick the “most important thing.”
Be honest with yourself.
Be honest with everyone else.
Pick the most important thing. If the Jews were ever to get their temple back and have their own religion once again, the Syrians had to be defeated. This was the most important thing. So Judah Maccabee and his four brothers formed an army and overthrew the Syrian king. If our Washington politicians are truly dedicated to representing us, they must begin immediately to communicate and negotiate with one another -- with deep respect for the other side of the aisle. This is the most important thing. Then they can decide together which issue comes first.
Be honest with yourself. Judah Maccabee had the same problem many successful politicians have. After he won the war over the Syrian king, he wanted to keep on warring on other kings. In other words, like the politician who has two successful terms, he wanted another and then another and then another. Judah was not honest with himself. He had not become a soldier to stay a professional soldier, but to free Israel. Once Israel was free, Judah should have gone home. Once our politicians have served their two terms -- they too, need to go home.
Be honest with everyone else. The Maccabees were transparent from the very beginning. Their goal was the freedom of their people, and they said so everywhere they went. They were honest and open and as a result, their people trusted them. A person cannot be dedicated to a lie: “If you want to keep your doctor, you can.” The president’s “trust level” hit an all-time low shortly after this was proven wrong, because Americans knew he could not be dedicated to this lie.
Hanukkah means dedication to the most important thing in your life and complete honesty with yourself and others. And you don’t have to be Jewish to celebrate it.
Happy Hanukkah to Melvin Kruger and all my Jewish friends.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corp. and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is www.billcummings.org.