The essential question in the popular story about Hanukkah is, “Will we have enough oil?” The answer, contrary to what seemed true, was yes.
We live in a culture that bombards us with the message, “You need to have X to be happy,” where X is anything from toothpaste to a car. In other words, we are continually getting the message that we do not have enough to be happy. Most of us always want more of something.
We live on a finite planet, with finite resources. We cannot all have everything we are told to want—it is a physical impossibility. The question of how much is enough is one that each of us has to answer individually and that society has to answer collectively. We need to begin to have this conversation publicly and to question the messages of a consumption-driven society. Think about places you can have this conversation.
The Tikkun Olam Commission of the Reconstructionist movement is initiating actions and conversations about wealth and income inequality and the related question, how much is enough?
Every study about happiness has shown that once people attain a fairly moderate standard of living, additional possessions or wealth do not make them happy. As our tradition teaches, “Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his portion” (Pirke Avot 4:1).
This year as you light the Hanukkah menorah, recall that in the story they feared there would not be enough oil, but they had faith that they could make do with what they had. And...there was enough oil! Where can you have faith that you have enough?
Best wishes for a light filled Hanukkah!
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
Director, Tikkun Olam Commission
Rabbi Josh Lesser
Chair, Tikkun Olam Commission
This text was created as part of an outreach program for college students from families that belong to Reconstructionist congregations who affiliated at the Engage or Invest level. To help these young people celebrate Hanukkah away from home, the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College offered the students’ home congregations the opportunity to send care packages with blessings, treats a teaching and DIY hanukkiot.
Read a poem and kavannah on gratitude by Rabbi Josh Lesser, '99.