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The Story Of Chanukah: ‘I Think I Can’

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It’s tempting to throw in the towel and give up. Or not bother to try in the first place.

But what if Matityahu had felt that way? The Greek army was a large, well-oiled fighting machine. It’s likely Matityahu, the leader of the Jewish freedom fighters, must have repeatedly been warned not to even think about fighting the Greeks.

Similarly when it came time to light the menorah in the Holy Temple and there was only enough oil for one day, the opinion of most might have been, “the flame is not going to last – so why waste what you have?”

However, like the fictional chief engineer on the spaceship, and the little engine, Matityahu did not let logic or the laws of nature stop him from trying. He did not let the extreme odds against success hold him back from “going for it.”

And neither should we. The road of life is full of potholes and seeming dead-ends. Faced with these damaging bumps, barriers and obstacles ahead, there is the temptation to just accept the yoke of the status quo, and give up continuing to reach our desired destination.

The lesson of Chanukah, however, is clear. Do not give up; do not let the “facts” stop you from trying to change what seems to be cut in stone. We must internalize the mindset of the little engine, who, as he struggles up the hill chants, “I think I can. I think I can.”

Many years ago, while flipping through a newspaper looking for the comics, I came across the obit page. Most were a few lines, so when I saw a rather lengthy piece, I glanced at it out of curiosity. It started with the words, “18 years after being given six months to live, the family sadly announces the passing of…” It went on to say how this man in his upper 40′s had far exceeded medical expectations – had even outlived some of his doctors. Obviously, this man did not allow the “experts” to dictate to him what his future would be. Despite the “facts on the ground” he fought – just like the Maccabees.

So, too, we must not let “reality” stop us from trying to attain our heartfelt goals. There are many individuals who have been told that they are terminally ill, will never have children, will never walk again, or that their child will never be functional. Yet they or their loved one are alive and well, having achieved the supposedly impossible.

The act of trying is itself a kiddush Hashem – an act of extreme faith. When attempting the seemingly unachievable, you are expressing your belief that there is a Master of the Universe, who is above the laws of physics, nature, biology, etc. Hence, He can execute miracles. All He requires is that you take the first step.

At the end of the day, since all is in Hashem’s hands, the true measure of your success will not be in the attaining, but in the trying.

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