I grew up lighting Hanukah candles, but we also had a Xmas tree, so that we wouldn’t feel different from the other kids in the neighborhood. That’s the way it is with a great many Jews in America. In the Orthodox world, homes don’t have Xmas trees, but that, and Shabbat, is about the only thing separating them from being just as American as everyone else, just as passionate about baseball and football, the latest movies, and the popular American songs. By and large, no one is really waiting for Mashiach to come. He would just mess up their lives and make them come to Israel, as this fun holiday poem I composed points out:
Twas the Last Night of Hanukah
Twas the last night of Hanukah, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The latkes were laid out on the table with care,
In hopes that Moshiach soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my yarmulke cap,
Had just settled into bed for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Moshiach.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Who is it? Who is it?” my wife wanted to know.
“Moshiach,” I told her, trembling with fear.
“Wake the children!” I urged. “Hurry and hide them! Don’t stall!”
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
“He’s come to take us away to the Land of Israel,” I said.
“Isn’t that what we pray for?” she asked, her faced flushed and red.
“What?! And give up all that we have? Are you nuts?!”
“Hide the kids in the basement. Now! Without any buts!”
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I crawled under the bed, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Moshiach came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Jews he had flung over his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
My heart was beating so fast, I thought I’d have an attack!
As he went about, looking for Jews he could put in his sack.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
“Wake up! Wake up from your slumber!” he called.
If you don’t come now, you’re gonna be mauled!”
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl of gefilta-fish jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
But I peed in my pants in spite of myself!
“You’ll all be sorry!” he called, shaking his fist.
Then, with a grunt, I saw him cross our names off his list.
“You forgot to place Jerusalem above your highest joy.”
“So your children will grow up to marry some goy.”
“You had your chance, but I can’t waste my time and delay.”
“Stay here with your bagels and money and continue to pray.”
He spoke nothing more, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings with bagels, then turned with a jerk.
And holding up his finger by his big Jewish nose,
He gave a nod, and up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy exile to all, and to all a good-night!”